2019 Legislative Session

Get fired up for the bills we're prioritizing in 2019!

Fight for $15 | MAT Access | Minors' Right to Consent to HousingExpungement Reform

New: Check out this handy one-pager on our bills!


Fight for $15 (HB 166/SB 280)

By 2023, this bill will increase the state’s minimum wage from $10.10/hr to $15/hr.

Why we support the bill:

  • It empowers workers by reducing the burdens of poverty and moves us toward equity and justice for all workers.
    • Despite being the United States' richest state, 10% of Marylanders (and 13% of our state's children) live in poverty. Fifty percent of poor Marylanders live in deep poverty, with incomes below 50% of the poverty line. 
    • While $15/hour is not enough, it is a huge step towards a livable wage.
  • At Health Care for the Homeless, we walk the walk:
    • No one at Health Care for the Homeless earns less than $17/hour.
    • A livable minimum wage has been good for our 275 employees and for our agency: improving our bottom line, increasing our growth and supporting our mission.

Latest updates: This bill passed both the House and Senate and now goes to Governor Hogan for his signature! Governor Hogan has sharply criticized the $15 minimum wage and will likely veto. But there's still hope: the legislature might have enough votes to override the veto. Stay tuned...

access to Medication-assisted treatment (HB 116/SB 846)

HB 116 expands access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD) in jails and prisons in Maryland. The bill will mandate that all state prison facilities and local detention centers conduct assessments of people who are incarcerated and provide MAT and counseling to those diagnosed with OUD who want treatment. 

Why we support the bill:

  • Medications (buprenorphine, methadone and extended release naltrexone) are proven effective treatments for opioid addiction. 
  • Providing people with OUD who are incarcerated with MAT has proven successful:
    • Inmates treated with methadone or buprenorphine prior to release are more likely to engage in post-release treatment and to stay in treatment longer 
    • Treatment with extended-release naltrexone can reduce relapse rates among criminal justice-involved adults with a history of opioid-dependence
    • Forced discontinuation of methadone treatment during incarceration can lead to a reluctance to engage in future treatment
  • A study of a similar program in Rhode Island showed that it reduced overdose deaths among those released by more than 60%.
  • Expanding treatment options helps to reduce stigma and treat addiction as a disease.

Latest updates: Both HB 116 and SB 846 passed their respective chambers. Even with the bill's amendments, this still represents immense progress for health care and treatment access in Maryland jails. HB 116 will next be heard in the Senate Finance Committee, date TBD.

minors' Right to consent to housing (HB 911/SB 930)

This bill allows an unaccompanied minor experiencing or at risk of homelessness (as well as the minor’s child or children) to consent to admission to an emergency shelter or housing program and receive related services.

Why we support the bill:

  • Youth experiencing homelessness who are not connected with family face significant barriers to the receiving housing, health care and other crucial services.
  • Obtaining parental consent usually isn't possible.
  • Providing housing and supportive services to unaccompanied youth is a critical step toward ending their homelessness.

Latest updates: This bill has been amended to be a workgroup to get stakeholder input and recommendations on minors' right to consent to housing and shelter. While we would have liked to see this affirmative right given to minors, having stakeholder input is a good step forward. The House passed their version of the workgroup, and it crossed over to the Senate; The Senate versionpassed its original chamber and is onto second reader.

Expungement Expansion (SB 833)

This bill allows non-convictions and adult offenses that have been moved to juvenile court to be automatically removed from criminal records. It makes misdemeanors eligible for expungement after five years, felonies eligible for expungement after seven years, and nuisance crimes after the completion of probation or parole. The bill also limits public access to criminal records on Maryland case search and changes the disposition of unexecuted arrest warrants to make them eligible for expungement.

Why we support the bill:

  • An estimated 1.5 million Marylanders, nearly 25% of the state’s population, have a criminal record that may surface in a routine background check.
  • A criminal record can serve as an insurmountable barrier to getting a job, housing and other critical resources, even if the record did not result in a conviction.
  • Streamlining criminal record expungement can significantly improve our clients’ opportunities for housing and employment.

Latest updates:  Unfortunately, the expungement bill has not yet moved forward, even though we know the legislature is positive about this issue. We are excited that there is movement on two other significant criminal justice reform bills that we supported this session: HB 13, a bill to repeal the "unit rule" so that a person can expunge a charge even if it's part of a set of related charges, passed the House; and HB 88, decriminalizing open container laws, passed the House. This misdemeanor is hugely problematic for our clients working with the City's housing authority, so it's a huge win in the works. HB 13 and HB 88 will have hearings in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 26.

Lobby Day 2019