We have made it through "Crossover Day" in the Maryland General Assembly. Legislation passed in one chamber now makes its way over to the other body for consideration. I'm proud to say that several more of my bills passed out of the House of Delegates just under the wire and are now up for discussion in the Senate:
HB 1026 - Parental Leave at Birth or Adoption of a Child - passed the House on Monday by a vote of 98 to 36. This bill provides employees of businesses with 15-49 employees six weeks of job-protected parental leave. In addition, the bill requires employers to maintain an employee's health coverage during the parental leave. This will be a critical protection for the 46% of Maryland's private sector workforce who is not covered by the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This legislation passed out of the Senate Finance Committee, 10-1, and the full Senate will vote on it this week. Special thanks to the Montgomery County Commission for Women, Maryland Family Network, American Academy of Pediatrics Maryland Chapter, Maryland NOW, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, SEIU, Progressive Maryland, NAACP, MomsRising, National Partnership for Women and Families, and all the small Maryland businesses who stood up in support of this legislation.
HB 963 - Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations and Planning Committee - unanimously passed the House of Delegates and will be heard in the Senate in the coming days. Current state policy designates only one hospital in each county for these services, putting the burden on victims to get to the "right" hospital. The Montgomery County Council supports this legislation, as does the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA). This bill will require each hospital to establish a protocol for treating rape victims, and will establish a Committee of experts in victim services, emergency medical services, and criminal justice to make recommendations for best practices moving forward. ABC2 covered this issue and my bill in its report, "Rape Survivors Burdened by Maryland Law" - click here to watch the news story on this important bill.
In addition to these important bills, we also passed out of the House of Delegates:
HB 297 - PreKindergarten Expansion Act of 2014 - passed in the House on Monday, this bill proposed by Governor O'Malley would expand pre-K for nearly 1,600 more Maryland children whose families have incomes at or below 300% of the federal poverty guideline (less than $70,650 for a family of four).
HB 881 - Medical Marijuana - Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission - sponsored by Delegate Cheryl Glenn (District 45-Baltimore City) and passed in the House on Monday, this bill allows the state's commission to accept physician-referred applications for medicinal marijuana for chronic and debilitating diseases.
And finally, I held a hearing on my legislation HB1191, which would require packaged foods sold in Maryland that are manufactured with genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled. Similar requirements exist in 64 other countries, but our FDA has refused to act on this issue despite increasing consumer demand for information. You can learn more about the issue in a WBAL news report here.
I look forward to the work that lies ahead, and thank you for your continuing support. As always, please know that you can contact me on these issues and others.
Delegate Ariana Kelly
The House of Delegates floor turned green for St. Patrick's Day! I'm joined by my House floor seatmates Delegate Bonnie Cullison (middle) and Delegate Ana sol Gutierrez (right).