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February 23, 2010

Exceptions Legislation and Charles Jenkins

Farrell Keough

Two bills which are currently active in our Maryland General Assembly need your support. One will be heard today. Take some time to send your representatives an email!


The first bill (House Bill 254) has undergone a long process – a copy of the bill can be found here. I found out about this bill through a man named Jerry Norton. Jerry is a regular guy who runs a regular business.  He did not get involved with this process because of some family tragedy, but rather because he saw the serious problems in our judicial system and wanted to help remedy that situation. He has been working on and pushing this since at least 2006 along with the Citizens For Jessica’s Law group.


House Bill 254, “Crimes – Sexual Offenses Against Children – Jessica’s Law Enhancement” does exactly what it states – it enhances the laws already on the books. Very simply, it alters the minimum sentence for rape, (2nd Degree rape – but rape none-the-less) from 5 years to 20 years and alters the maximum from 20 years to life. First degree rape is already 25 years to life.


I want to note here that this is not some new bill that will harm two 15 year old kids who are not able to control themselves in a moment of passion. *


Why is this necessary? In a press release, it was noted that “[t]he recidivism rate for child molesters and rapists averages 37 and 46 percent, respectively, and demonstrates the importance of passing such legislation in Maryland.” But it should be noted that these rates are cloudy at best and many offenders come into contact with numerous children before they are caught or discovered.


Marylander’s are no longer willing to accept the current “slap on the wrist” for these crimes – stronger mandatory enforcement is a must as too many judges seem to let these people, who have committed the most heinous of crimes, slide. In short, the current system has established a “revolving door” mentality for these kinds of crimes and the repugnant people who commit them!


The biggest hurdle for passage of this enhancement will be Delegate Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Delegate Vallario is very much embedded with the Trial Lawyers who never want mandatory sentencing, which is very telling. Others on the committee who need your letters are referenced below. ** Please take the time to read this 3-page bill and send them a letter or give them a call – our voices make a difference!  Don’t put this off – the hearing is today!


* * * * * * * * *


Another bill is on its way to being voted upon. It was put forth by none other than our local “uppity” Del. Charles Jenkins. Of course I am kidding with the “uppity” comment, but there is a bit of truth to the comment. Forwarding a bill generally means a representative has had the time to develop alliances – considering the short time frame Delegate Jenkins has been in Annapolis, this is a remarkable accomplishment!


First, it needs to be understood how bills work in our legislature. There must be a bill in both the Senate and the House of Delegates. When this bill was originally dropped into the hopper, some of the old timers wanted another delegate to put something forward. Funny how that works. But, truth be told, Delegate Jenkins has the best history for such a bill and his was forwarded.


The bill, HB 1012 deals with reporting and recording Immigration status for those people in prison or on parole – a copy of the bill can be found here. As Delegate Jenkins has worked very closely with Sheriff Chuck Jenkins on the 287(g) and ICE programs, he is the perfect representative to handle such a bill.


As with the previous bill, this is not complicated – it simply looks for those prisoners who are Illegal immigrants and opens a path to legally and correctly send them back to their home nation. While this may add a small amount of extra work for our Division of Corrections, the end result will be a huge pay off by ridding our nation of these law breakers who often end up in our court system due to serious crimes including gang violence and murders – an easy win-win proposition!


We have already seen a quick reference to it in The Frederick News-Post ( ) so hopefully people will stay on top of this very worthy legislation.


* * * * * * * * *


But, that is not all that has occurred during Delegate Jenkins’ time in Annapolis.  Another event occurred which likely will not hit the papers and it saved Marylanders a good chunk of change!


With all the hoopla about health care reform at the national level, it is rarely noted that health Insurance is currently regulated by the various states. In short, the states declare what must be covered by even the most basic health insurance plans. The general reviews of state requirements for this insurance places Maryland as second for requiring numerous extras, (not the basics) to be covered by insurance companies – long and short, this means our premiums will be higher.


A new requirement was forwarded – in vitro fertilization. Currently we pay an extra premium so couples can be insured for this procedure every two years – and it is an expensive process. A proposal was brought forward to change that option to every 12 months. This would have increased our premiums substantially!


Since no one spoke up during discussions on this proposal, Delegate Jenkins piped in. If you apply this new cost across the board, the charges to the general public would be tremendous!


So many elected officials forget how these costs affect everyday people and “it’s not their money anyway.” Pointing out this very important return on investment had a powerful affect on the committee and the proposal was voted down! In short, our newly appointed delegate has already saved all of us a substantial sum of money and no one would know it if it was not printed here!


With the legislative session in full swing, there will be many other issues to follow closely. Hopefully our writers here at will keep on top of these important pieces of legislation and we all remain “in the know”.


* * * * * * * * *


* (3) if the victim is under the age of 14 years, and the person 1 performing the act is at least 4 years older than the victim.

                    (b) A person 18 years of age or older may not violate subsection (a)(1) or (2) of 3 this

                    section involving a child under the age of 13 years. 4

                     (c) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a person 5 who

                    violates subsection (a) of this section is guilty of the felony of rape in the second

                    6 degree and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 20 years.


** Judiciary Committee [copy the following and put it into your email and you should be able to contact all members];;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;



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