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Policy Initiatives

2023 Legislative Priorities

Safe Harbor and Service Response

Written Testimony
Sponsors: Delegate Bartlett and Senator Waldstreicher
Status: PASSED

  • Decriminalizes prostitution for minors so that when law enforcement encounters a minor engaged in sex work, that child will be referred to DSS and the relevant Regional Navigator and not the Department of Juvenile Services. In addition, this bills protects minors from criminal prosecution or proceeded against for certain criminal or civil offences if the minor committed the offense as a direct result of sex trafficking.
  • This bill establishes a process to halt open court cases involving minors when indicators of trafficking arise. The case will resume after a trafficking assessment is conducted with appropriate steps. 

Health Insurance – Access to Care Act

Written Testimony
Sponsors: Delegate Pena-Melnyk and Senator Lam

  • Alters the purpose of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Fund to include the provision of funding for the establishment and operation of the Qualified Resident Enrollment Program
  • Requires the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to establish and implement the Program to allow qualified residents to obtain coverage, facilitate the enrollment of qualified residents in qualified health plans, and, based on the availability of funds, provide premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions to qualified residents; etc.

2022 Legislative Priorities

House Testimony
Senate Testimony

Sponsors: Delegate Brooke Lierman, Senators Lee and Watson

  • Asserts that a minor may not be criminally prosecuted or proceeded against as a delinquent child for certain crimes or civil offenses if the minor committed the crime or civil offense as a direct result of sex trafficking.
  • Ensures that minors involved in the juvenile justice system who are suspected to be victims of sex trafficking will have their court proceeding stayed while they are assessed for sex trafficking by the Regional Navigator. If the assessment finds the minor to be a victim of sex trafficking, their prosecution will be dismissed and they will be directed out of juvenile justice and into victim services.

2019 Legislative Priorities

Written Testimony

Sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Jesse Pippy

Status: PASSED

  • Moves sex trafficking from the prostitution section of the code the crimes against a person section – further pushing the shift away from thinking that sex trafficking is just prostitution.
  • Makes human trafficking a crime of violence, which extends the period before which a person is eligible for parole.
  • Fixes several sections of the code to ensure that the definition of sex trafficking laws are clear and able to be enforced.

Written Testimony

Sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Wanika Fisher

Status: PASSED

  • Criminalizes labor trafficking based on the collective experiences of other states and federal law.
  • Resembles the Maryland sex trafficking statute by making labor trafficking a felony with a 25-year maximum penalty.
  • Grants concurrent jurisdiction to the Attorney General, who will be able to independently investigate and prosecute labor trafficking.

Written Testimony

Sponsors: Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Brooke Lierman

Status: PASSED

  • Creates a Regional Navigator program which ensures that every sex trafficked individual aged under 25 will have access to immediate and local specialized services
  • Requires law enforcement and the Departments of Social Services to refer cases of sex trafficking to a Regional Navigator.
  • Requires children involved with the Department of Social Services to be screened for sex trafficking.
UMD SAFE Center Team Statement on Racial Injustice

The UMD SAFE Center decries the structural racism that remains as a toxic legacy of our country’s history and permeates our society today, and we are working to ensure that we are an actively anti-racist institution.