Woman's National Democratic Club

Women’s Health & Women’s Rights Spotlight: The 2022 Maryland Legislative Session

The 2022 Maryland Legislative session has been underway in Annapolis since January 12. Two bills of note could pass or perish before sine die (signing day) on April 11.

The Time to Care Act of 2022 (SB275/HB8)

The Time to Care Act seeks to ensure that Marylanders can continue to care for their loved ones while still pursuing their careers by establishing a family and medical leave insurance fund that would provide partial wage replacement for up to twelve weeks of paid time off for caregivers. Perhaps the most exciting implication of the proposed legislation is the possibility of expanding access to paid maternity leave for Maryland women. Currently, the United States is one of the only nations not to offer a national paid parental leave program. However, research overwhelmingly demonstrates that leave has immensely positive effects on the health and well-being of the mother and child and the mother’s future career success. This legislation is sponsored by Delegate Kris Valderrama of Prince George’s County in the House of Delegates and by Senator Antonio Hayes of Baltimore City and Senator Joanne Benson of Prince George’s County in the Senate. The Time to Care Coalition has served as a constant supporter of this piece of legislation.

On March 17, the Maryland House of Delegates gave preliminary approval for their version of the Time to Care Act (HB8)- paving the way for the Marylanders to start receiving benefits as soon as 2024. However, for the bill to pass into law, the House and Senate must pass the legislation with the exact verbiage, and Governor Hogan has to sign the legislation. House Speaker Jones considers this bill a priority this legislative session, while Senate President Ferguson believes the bill requires more work before it can be passed into law. However, massive public support might give this bill the edge it needs to pass this session- a recent opinion poll demonstrated that the Time to Care Act has broad public support among Marylanders- 88% of respondents supported the bill while only 9% oppose it. For more information on this legislation, see this article from the Baltimore Sun and a video from WBAL.

Repealing Criminal Law §3-318

SB33/ HB 153 seeks to repeal Criminal Law §3-318, which provides that marriage is a defense to sex crimes unless there is a limited divorce, separation, threat of force, or actual force—otherwise, in the state of Maryland, marriage is a complete defense for sex crimes in a court of law. The proposed legislation would repeal Criminal Law §3-318 and no longer allow for marriage to be a defense for any sex crime. This legislation has been attempted in previous legislative sessions; it is imperative that this bill is passed swiftly. Currently in Maryland, a spouse can rape their partner and then use the fact that they are married as a defense in a court of law; Maryland is one of the few states to still have such an archaic law on the books. The lead sponsors of this legislation are Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield of Montgomery County and Senator Susan Lee of Montgomery County. The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault has been an outspoken supporter for this legislation. HB153 has passed the House of Delegates and is currently in first reading in the Senate. Read the Baltimore Sun’s article about the legislation during last year’s session.

For further information on both bills, The Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women (MLAW), a state-wide coalition of women’s groups and individuals, highlighted both these pieces of legislation in their 2022 Legislative Briefing Packet.

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