Placing the Blame Where It Belongs

One of the failed bills in this year’s Maryland General Assembly was HB 428 which sought to remove the parental rights of rapists. Its failure has become a national political cause celebre with references as wide as the Daily Show and Britain’s Daily Mail.

The template for the reporting on the bill’s failure runs something like this from the Daily Beast:

“Five Maryland legislators could have ended a policy that forces women to share child custody with their rapists. Instead the five legislators, all men, buried the bill.”

Almost nothing about that statement is true.

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First, the bill has failed for nearly a decade, in part, because it seeks not to remove only the parental rights of convicted rapists, which no one opposes, but provides for the removal of parental rights for those accused of rape. These accusations, under the bill, require no criminal charges to be filed, let alone a conviction, and can be made up to seven years after the rape occurred.

The provisions raised due process concerns which was why the Maryland State Bar Association was so opposed to the bill last year. In a letter to legislators in last year’s session the MSBA noted,

“The MSBA is keenly sensitive to the concerns of the women who are victims of rape, and for the welfare of children conceived as a result of rape, awaiting placement for adoption. However, we cannot support either House Bill 646, or its fundamental approach to dealing with the problem identified by the proponents. It remains our belief that the bill, and the expedited and truncated hearing process it would create, do not afford basic due process protections that are necessary in terminating parental rights, which involve constitutionally protected liberty interests. Moreover, the bill constricts judicial discretion by requiring a court to terminate parental rights without sufficient due process.”

Despite similar concerns this year, HB 428 passed the House of Delegates unanimously on March 9, 2017. The State Senate passed the bill with amendments to address these concerns on April 6, 2017.

This is where the issue goes off the tracks, not because of the opposition of legislators but because of the intentional actions of the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly.  The House could have simply adopted the amendments from the Senate but did not do so. The Senators refused to “recede” or simply concur with the House version.

At this point a conference committee was to be appointed. This conference committee, appointed by legislative leaders, was not scheduled to meet until 11:00 pm on Sine Die making it nearly impossible to pass an agreed upon bill.  Despite this, the conference committee worked out the differences in the House and Senate versions in 15 minutes but it was still too late to get the bill printed and voted upon in each chamber. As the Baltimore Sun reported it:

“The bill still needed a vote in both chambers, and legislators dispatched aides to draw up the necessary paperwork. But as the final minutes of the session passed, the bill did not come up.”

So the idea that the “all male” conference committee was responsible for the bill’s demise is completely untrue.  The conference approved a bill and supported its passage but was set up to fail by Democratic leaders who have managed to keep similar bills from passing for the better part of decade.

Of particular note, one of the conference committee’s Republican members, Sen. Mike Hough, has been unfairly attacked for the bill’s failure.  Senator Hough has supported the bill for the last two years, voting in every event for its passage.  As a member of the minority party he has absolutely no control over the process of resolving issues between the chambers or the scheduling of the conference committee’s meeting. Despite this, he is being demonized around the world by outraged people who have not heard all of the facts detailed above.

Senator Hough will join us tonight on Red Maryland Radio to tell us more about this bill and his thoughts on the recent session.

A final note also needs to be made. The virtue signalling of Dels. Kathleen Dumais and David Moon is more than a bit hypocritical.  While they tout their efforts on behalf of women to punish rapists and remove rapists’ undeserved rights, they have repeatedly supported legislation which benefited these very same rapists.

Specifically, they supported HB1362, the Sanctuary State Bill, even after the reported rape of a young girl in Rockville by two illegal immigrants who would benefit from local law enforcement’s refusal to cooperate with federal authorities.  Then there is HB 723, a bill we discussed previously, which would take the Governor out of the parole process for the most violent criminals with the expressed purpose of having more convicts being released on parole. Of course, both supported restoring voting rights to rapists even while they are on probation or parole.

So, let’s place the blame for the failure to pass HB 428 where it belongs, namely the liberal Democratic leaders of the General Assembly who have let this bill die for nine years in a row and not some “all male panel” selected literally in the final hour of this year’s session who are being used as scapegoats.

And, while we are at it, let’s stop the biased reporting and hypocritical virtue signaling of progressives who have shown no problems in the past expanding the rights of rapists and other violent criminals.


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