2012 Legislative Priorities

January 11, 2012

CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland, 410-889-8555; media@aclu-md.org Melissa Goemann, ACLU of Maryland, 410-693-4877; goemann@aclu-md.org 

 

 

 

ANNAPOLIS - The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland today announced our legislative agenda for the 2012 General Assembly session. Our legislative program is dedicated to protecting the rights and liberties of all Marylanders, and works with local, statewide, and federal leaders to realize the promise of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. 

 

"From the freedom to marry for same-sex couples to online privacy to criminal justice reforms, this year there are real opportunities to advance the rights of Marylanders and make a difference in the lives of thousands of people," said Melissa Goemann, the ACLU of Maryland's legislative director. "The ACLU will be working hard in Annapolis to ensure that the Bill of Rights is not forgotten as our state elected officials consider new policies that affect all of us." 

 

The following are ACLU of Maryland's priorities for 2012 General Assembly session: 

LGBT EQUALITY

 

  • Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples

 

The ACLU of Maryland has long been a strong advocate for marriage equality. As steering committee members of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality Coalition, we are collaborating with advocacy, religious, and community leaders to pass legislation to establish the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.


 

  • Transgender Anti-Discrimination

 

The ACLU will continue to support the rights of transgendered persons to be free from intimidation and discrimination in employment, housing, and accommodations.

CRIMINAL/ JUVENILE JUSTICE

 

  • Earned Compliance Credits for Probationers/Parolees

 

The ACLU of Maryland will be leading the effort to enact legislation providing earned compliance or diminution credits for individuals on probation and parole.

 

  • Drug Law Reforms

 

The ACLU of Maryland will support efforts to decriminalize 1 oz of marijuana possession or reduce the current maximum sentence from 12 months to 90 days.

 

  • Death Penalty Repeal

 

Although 16 states have officially abolished the death penalty, Maryland is not one of them. The ACLU of Maryland will continue to support efforts to repeal the death penalty in Maryland. 

 

  • Parole of Lifers

 

In the 2011 session, the ACLU supported HB 302/SB 172 which required the Governor to act on recommendations by the parole board within 180 days. By continuing to reject all incarcerated persons recommended for release by the parole board prior to and since passage of the legislation, the Governor has effectively turned the sentence of "life with the possibility of parole" into "life without parole." This session, the ACLU will be supporting legislation to take the Governor out of the parole process for those sentenced as juveniles to life with the possibility of parole. 

 

  • Warrantless DNA Collection

 

During the 2008 session the General Assembly passed a bill that expanded DNA collection and retention to those arraigned for a variety of offenses. The bill will sunset in December of 2013. The ACLU will oppose efforts underway by the Administration to remove the sunset provision from the current law and expand it. 

 

  • Girls Parity in the Juvenile Justice System

 

The report by the Department of Juvenile Services in response to our legislation last year was deficient in indicating what services and programs were needed to achieve parity with boys. We will continue to pursue a full and complete report and determine what is needed to ensure that girls receive services and programs that are substantially equivalent to those of boys in the juvenile justice system. 

 

  • Encouraging Employment of Ex-Offenders

 

The ACLU of Maryland encourages the reentry of ex-offenders back into society by supporting legislation to ban public employers from asking about criminal background on the initial job application.

EDUCATION REFORM 
 
Protect State Education Funding

  • Support full funding of the "Thornton" education formula enacted by the Bridge to Excellence Act of 2002, including the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) and maintain funding of other parts of the education budget
  • Support restoration of the state's "Maintenance of Effort" requirement that local governments contribute their required share in order to ensure that standards for adequate funding are met
  • Oppose cuts to state education aid, including shifting state pension costs to local school systems and county governments
  • Advocate to restore the 1% inflation factor in the "Thornton" formula, so that school systems can begin to keep pace with rising costs


Increase Funding and Support Reform to Modernize Maryland's School Buildings

  • Advocate for the protection and increase of funds for improving the condition of Maryland school buildings, particularly in communities with low wealth and high levels of need
  • Support policy, regulatory, and legislative efforts to implement recommendations for modernizing Baltimore City school buildings set forth in the 2010 ACLU study, Buildings for Academic Excellence


Support Legislation to Boost Achievement among Maryland's At-Risk Students

  • Raise the compulsory age of school attendance from age 16 to 18
  • Fund full-day pre-Kindergarten for children from low-income families


TECHNOLOGY AND LIBERTY

 

  • Social Media Privacy 

 

The ACLU of Maryland will be leading the effort to enact legislation restricting employers from requiring potential and current employees to provide access to personal Internet and web-based accounts. 

 

  • Audio Recording on MTA Vehicles

 

The ACLU of Maryland will again oppose legislation to add audio recording to all MTA vehicles.

FAIR ELECTIONS

  • The legislative team is working in tandem with our legal team to ensure a fair redistricting process. During the 2011 session, Maryland enacted strict new campaign finance restrictions. We look to build on that success by supporting public financing of elections and securing the funds necessary for a voter-verified paper trial system. In addition, the ACLU of Maryland is in support of a same-day voter registration bill. Lastly, we seek to ensure a fair process for petitioning legislation to referendum.


HOUSING

 

  • Home Act

 

The ACLU of Maryland is a member of a broad coalition that supports legislation to end discrimination against people renting or purchasing with housing vouchers.

IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS

  • The ACLU of Maryland is working to support the passage of the Maryland Dream Act through the referendum period. In addition, we will continue to oppose any anti-immigrant bills that are introduced each year.


RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

 

  • BOAST

 

The ACLU of Maryland will again work to defeat the "BOAST" voucher bill, which would establish a 75% tax credit for business contributions to private and religious schools.

REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM

  • Every year the opponents of reproductive freedom create new legislative methods and strategies to undermine a woman's right to choose; every year the ACLU of Maryland stands against them. We will continue to defend the reproductive freedom of women throughout the state.


DISCRMINATION AND CIVIL RIGHTS

  • We will support legislation to expand civil rights protections against discrimination in places of public accommodation so that it includes internet businesses, as well as legislation to add a private right of action for citizens' discriminated against by places of public accommodation.


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