Legislative Update #3 – 2017
Saturday, April 1st, 2017 @ 1:57AM
I am extremely proud to report that on February 23rd, 2017, the Maryland Senate passed two bills to give a more fair judicial process to victims of sexual assault and rape cases. Senate Bills 217 and 349 passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority and are both great for Maryland.
Senate Bill 217 deals directly with the submission of proof that there was a resistance between the victim and the attacker(s). Currently under state law, in trials of rape and other sexual assault incidents, there is an immense burden on the victim to provide proof of their refusal. This not only provides the victim with a large logistical barrier, but an emotional obstacle as well. Senate Bill 217 will remove the statute, or expectation, that a victim will be able to provide undeniable proof of their accusations.
The subject of the second piece of legislation, Senate Bill 349, is criminal procedure regarding the collection and disposal of rape kit evidence. Over the last year, it has been discovered that Rape Kits have been routinely discarded – making prosecution of many rapes near impossible. Senate Bill 349 requires that a sexual assault evidence collection kit be turned over to a law enforcement agency and specifies when a kit or other crime scene evidence relating to a sexual assault may be destroyed or disposed of and when such evidence must be retained. It also requires that any health care provider administering a sexual assault evidence collection kit must also provide the victim with written information describing the laws and policies that govern the testing, preservation, and disposal of the evidence kit.
Additionally, I am proud to be the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 900. This legislation seeks to expand the current definition of abuse to include harassment and malicious destruction of property. The bill also would require that the State Board of Education encourage counties to incorporate age-appropriate lessons on domestic violence into current health education curriculum. Unfortunately, the number of people filing for protective and peace orders is increasing. The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence reported 55 deaths in a 12 month period to due to domestic violence. 33% of these took place in our county. I believe this is an epidemic and that we must respond.
I will continue to fight for a fair judicial process for everyone. As a proud father and grandfather, I am proud to have lobbied for, voted for and helped pass the first two pieces of legislation and will continue to work to obtain passage of the third.
It remains a great honor to represent our community in the Maryland Senate. If I can be of service to you or anyone you know please call my office at 301-858-3631, or email me at Douglas.Peters@senate.state.md.us.