Crossover 2023: Where Are We Now?
We’ve made it past Crossover Day! But what is that?
Crossover Day is one of the most critical days in the Maryland General Assembly. It’s the day bills have to pass either the House or the Senate to have a good shot at final passage. Bills that haven’t yet passed through either chamber will need to go through a more complicated process involving the Rules Committee of each chamber, meaning there is a much smaller likelihood that they will pass.
What does this mean for JUFJ’s bills? Well, thanks to your advocacy, JUFJ and our coalition partners have helped move four House bills and two Senate bills through at least one chamber of the General Assembly!
Most of these bills have a good path to full passage. However, two of our priority bills did not move in time.
Let’s take a look at what progress we’ve made and where our work lies moving forward over the next three weeks before this legislative session ends.
Big advancements of critical legislation in Maryland!
- Labor Justice: Implement paid family and medical leave strongly and equitably (SB828/HB988) – passed out of the Senate and now heads to the House! This bill is in good shape, since it passed out of one chamber by the Crossover deadline. We must now focus on ensuring that the state-run program has the funding to be fully staffed and functional.
“Last year, as a primary care physician, a new mother, and a Jew, I celebrated alongside other advocates when our General Assembly passed the historic Time to Care Act, advancing economic, racial, and health justice for all Marylanders, ranging from my most vulnerable patients at the community health center, to my colleagues employed in the healthcare field,” testified JUFJer Natalie Spicyn. “Strong and equitable paid family and medical leave is both a moral imperative and an opportunity to enact structural solutions in the fight to decrease health disparities.”
- Renters’ Rights: Hold illegally operating landlords accountable and ensure safe rental housing (SB100/HB36) – passed out of both the House and Senate! This bill is in good shape, since it passed out of not only one but two chambers by the Crossover deadline.
“Access to safe and stable housing has far-reaching economic, health, and social benefits to individuals, families, and communities, and is key to reducing racial inequities,” testified JUFJer Anna Levy. “No landlord should be incentivized to operate without conforming to the law.”
- Immigrant Rights: Expand healthcare access for undocumented immigrants (SB365/HB588) – passed out of the House and now heads to the Senate! This bill is in good shape, since it passed out of one chamber by the Crossover deadline.
“With both families, I’ve watched them find work, support their children’s education, and find a place in their communities. They couldn’t have done this without healthcare, and they are part of a lucky few,” testified JUFJer Anna Rubin, who has helped support two refugee families over the past six years. “As Jews, we are obligated to make sure that those of us who were not born in our community are as safe, and as healthy, as those of us who were. And as Marylanders, we are obligated to take the lead in national policy by extending healthcare to everyone, regardless of immigration status.”
We’ll keep organizing on these bills with our coalition partners and legislative allies, so that they all pass out of the General Assembly before the end of the legislative session.
Legislation that met the Crossover deadline, but needs some work.
- Transforming Public Safety: Reduce unnecessary police interactions by banning cannabis odor searches (SB51/HB1071) – passed out of the House and now heads to the Senate! While this bill passed out of one chamber by the Crossover deadline, it did not codify the exclusionary rule. The Supreme Court of Maryland has made clear that the exclusionary rule, which prevents unconstitutionally gathered evidence from being used in a court of law, must be explicitly codified in legislation. Accordingly, the bill must codify the exclusionary rule to protect Marylanders’ Fourth Amendment rights.
“The ability of police to pull drivers out of their cars because of the alleged odor of a legal substance leaves a door to discriminatory pretextual stops wide open and makes people of color even more likely to be injured or killed by police — especially during traffic stops — that we know happens far too often,” testified JUFJer Karen Caplan.
- Transforming Public Safety: Restore local control of Baltimore City Police Department (SB758/HB853) – passed out of the House and now heads to the Senate! While this bill passed out of one chamber by the Crossover deadline, three of the five members of Baltimore City’s Senate Delegation voted to support a weakening amendment that would leave the Baltimore City Council unable to legislate anything related to the police. More information and next steps will be forthcoming.
“When Mayor Scott convened his Local Control Advisory Board last year, he said that the people of Baltimore are ‘desperate’ for local control because it is the foundation for ‘transparency and accountability.’ That is exactly right,” testified JUFJer Toby Ditz. “We must not delay one moment longer on this fundamental matter of self-governance, racial justice, and police accountability.”
We are frustrated and disappointed that two of our priority bills did not get a committee vote, and will very likely not be moving forward this year.
- Court & Prison Reform: Youth Equity & Safety (YES) Act – End the racist practice of automatically charging youth as adults (SB93/HB96)
“By treating teens as fully responsible actors and subjecting them to the adult criminal legal system, including adult jails and prisons, we lose critical opportunities for shaping and guiding their thinking and allowing them to become responsible and productive members of our society,” testified JUFJer Lisa Horowitz, a clinical neuropsychologist. “In Maryland, we send more young people to adult court based on offense type than any other state per capita except for Alabama. This practice leads to higher rates of recidivism and also fuels the unjust criminalization and incarceration of Black youth, who are disproportionately targeted by our legal system.”
- Transforming Public Safety: Increase local jurisdictions’ ability to provide community oversight of police (SB285)
“When I joined the National Security Agency as an analyst in the early 1980s, one of the first things I learned was the all-important computer science phrase GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. Under the current law, police are not required to investigate every complaint that is filed, meaning that their assessments of their own misconduct can be grossly inaccurate,” testified JUFJer Heidi Rhodes. “We get better results when independent investigations are done and organizations don’t police themselves. We will have greater community oversight of police if police aren’t the only ones able to investigate their alleged misconduct.”
We are working with our partners on next steps, and more information will be forthcoming.
Our work moving forward
Moving forward, we will be laser-focused on which bills are still in play, and where our support would be strategic and useful in moving the needle.
Additionally, we will need to continue to put pressure on our state representatives and Governor Wes Moore to address our funding priorities, none of which have been funded for the 2024 fiscal year:
- Labor Justice: Fund paid family and medical leave to ensure a fully functional program for Maryland’s workers
- For paid family and medical leave to be implemented strongly and equitably, the Maryland Department of Labor (MDOL) needs adequate funding for staffing and technology. We and our partners are working with MDOL to ensure a robust and efficient state-run program.
- Renters’ Rights: Fund emergency rental assistance to keep 20,000 Maryland families housed
“Evictions are financially and socially destabilizing, and keeping people housed is critical to reducing racial inequities and strengthening individuals, families, and our communities,” testified JUFJer Anna Levy.
- Court & Prison Reform: Fund the planning of a women’s prerelease facility to ensure access to critical resources and opportunities for women nearing the end of their prison sentences so that they can successfully return to our communities
“Lacking access to prerelease programs and services, many women are released with no long-term home plan and no means of stable income,” testified JUFJer Carol Stern. “By establishing a Women’s Prerelease Facility, the state will address a long-standing inequity for incarcerated women, reduce recidivism by removing barriers to their success, and improve the lives of their children, families, and communities.”
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