2019 Legislative Session

Learn more about the bills we prioritized during the 2019 session and get the latest updates below. 

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

Check out this handy one-pager on our bills!


Fight for $15 (HB 166/SB 280) - Bill Passed

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: The bill passed and the fight for $15 is finally over! This makes Maryland the 6th state in the nation to approve legislation for a $15 minimum wage. Workers in the state will see an increase to $11 an hour starting January 1, 2020. 

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

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: With the passage of this bill, incarcerated people diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) must now be provided with behavioral health counseling, access to peer recovery specialists and comprehensive reentry plans. Initially, the bill applies to four specific counties (Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s) with a gradual expansion to the remaining jurisdictions by January 2023. It also establishes a MAT pilot program in the Baltimore City pre-trial complex and includes strong data collection requirements. This is a huge step in treating opioid use disorder and preventing overdose deaths. 

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

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 passed, signaling great progress in giving the affirmative for youth to consent to housing and shelter. The bill has been amended into a workgroup to explore this issue further, and Health Care for the Homeless will be an integral part of this study. This ongoing participation means that next year we can return to the issue and solve this problem once and for all. 

Expungement Expansion (SB 833) - Bill Did Not Pass

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:  While the expungement expansion bill did not pass, Health Care for the Homeless was a critical voice in passing other criminal justice reform measures, such as decriminalizing the open container law in Maryland. We were incredibly close to expanding the expungement law and it created a lot of buzz, so we are going to come back even stronger next year.

Lobby Day 2019