Progress in May 2017

Posted on May 25, 2017

** = new or updated legislation since our April report

Civil Rights & Liberties

The Montana House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB147, which requires government agencies to get a warrant before accessing data in any electronic device unless it has informed, affirmative consent of the owner. **The Montana House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed HB148, which will require government agencies to get a warrant in order to obtain electronic communication from service providers.  **The Arizona Senate and House passed, and the Governor signed, SB 1342 and the New Hampshire House and Senate passed HB 474 both of which would ban police use of “stingrays” which track the location of phones and collect electronic communications without a warrant.  **The New Mexico House and Senate passed, but the Governor vetoed, SB 61, which would have prohibited the use of “stingrays” or the compelling of a service provider to share user metadata without a warrant but it was vetoed by the Governor.  The New Hampshire House passed HB 171, which would prohibit the state from assisting a federal agency in the collection or use of a person’s electronic data without a warrant. The North Dakota House passed HB 1170, which would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws by requiring a criminal conviction before asset forfeiture can proceed and preventing prosecutors from circumventing state laws by passing cases off to federal forfeiture programs.  The Arizona House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB 2477, which requires prosecutors to establish a higher evidentiary standard for asset forfeiture and establish stringent reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies for how seized funds are spent.  The Utah House passed HB 19 and the Indiana Senate passed SB 8 both of which work to reform the state’s civil forfeiture procedures. The New Hampshire House passed HB 614 which would close a federal loophole that allows state and local police to circumvent civil asset forfeiture laws by passing cases off to federal authorities. The New Hampshire House passed HB 97, the Hawaii House passed HB 314, and West Virginia passed SB 9, all of which would prohibit the use of drones to obtain information for law enforcement purposes without a warrant. The Alabama Senate and House passed, and the Governor signed, SB 16, which prohibits the court from overriding a jury verdict in the sentencing phase of capital cases.  The Vermont Senate and House passed, and the Governor signed, SB 79, which grants the governor sole authority to approve agreements with federal immigration officials and prevent law enforcement agencies in the state from collecting personally identifiable information, including race, sex, immigration status, religion or sexual orientation, and sharing that information with federal authorities. Washington’s Governor issued Executive Order 17-01 which prohibits any state agency from inquiring about a person’s immigration status and forbids the use of agency funds, equipment, or personnel to assist in the creation of any federal program requiring registration of individuals on the basis of religious affiliation or assist in the of targeting or apprehending of residents for violations of federal civil immigration laws. The Maryland House passed HB 1362, which prohibits law enforcement officials from arresting or detaining individuals for the purposes of investigating suspected immigration violations. The New York Assembly passed AB 4876, which would reform the criminal justice system by raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 years of age. The New York Assembly also passed AB 2142, which would seal the criminal records of individuals who were arrested for simple possessions of marijuana, decreasing their barriers to accessing employment, housing and other state services. **The New Hampshire House and Senate passed HB 640 which would decriminalize marijuana possession in the state. **The California Senate passed SB 54 which would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from using resources to investigate, detain and report or arrest people for the purposes of immigration enforcement.

Consumer Protection

The Virginia Assembly and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB 2113 which will protect citizens from identity theft by requiring employers to notify the attorney general’s office if they discover that employee payroll information has been compromised. The Wyoming House passed HB 227, which would require notice and disclosure of automatic renewal provisions in consumer contracts. The Maryland House passed HB 172 which expands the state housing policy to include providing for fair housing to all citizens regardless of income and prohibits a person from refusing to sell or rent housing to any person because of income level. The Maryland House passed HB 453, which would work to protect residents from losing their homes over unpaid water bills, by putting a moratorium on the water lien foreclosure process.  The New Mexico legislature passed, and the Governor signed, HB 15, which requires that individuals who are affected by a security breach involving personally identifying information must be notified within a specific time frame. The Maryland House and Senate passed and enacted SB 884, which sets up a Financial Consumer Protection Commission to study and issue recommendations on the impact of changes to federal financial industry laws and regulations. The Maryland House and Senate passed HB 631, which would prohibit manufacturers and wholesale distributors from engaging in price gouging in the sale of an essential generic drug. **The New Jersey legislature passed, and the Governor signed, SB 743 which will forbid the state’s student loan agency from seeking repayments from the families of deceased students. **The California Senate passed SB 711, which is intended to protect utility customers from spikes in winter heating costs by requiring lower level rates and cost estimates for the following month on each bill. **The Washington legislature passed, and the Governor signed, HB 1493, which prohibits a company from enrolling a biometric identifier in a database for a commercial purpose, without first obtaining the user’s consent. **The Nevada Assembly passed AB 163, which seeks to reform payday lending services by increasing grace periods and transparency around short-term loans. **California’s Senate passed SB 790 which restricts pharmaceutical companies from giving gifts and incentives to medical professionals in order to limit their likelihood of prescribing expensive name-brand drugs instead of more affordable generic options. **The New York City Council passed Intro 1218 which establishes fines for landlords and property owners that illegally convert homes into three or more units above what is legally allowed.

Education

Both the Virginia Senate and Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, HB 2257, which will require all high school family life education curriculum to incorporate age-appropriate elements of effective and evidence-based programs on the meaning of consent. The Indiana House passed HB 1386, which would establish a student-centered competency-based education pilot program in K-12 schools. Similarly, the Kentucky Senate and House passed, and the Governor signed, SB 1 which will mirror the Every Student Succeeds Act and alter the state’s education standards by allowing school districts to develop their own teacher evaluation methods and criteria. The Maryland House and Senate passed HB 461 which would limit the amount of time school districts can spend on testing. San Francisco’s mayor announced a new program which allows for free tuition for all students who are California residents living in the city and provides subsidies to current low-income students. The Georgia Senate passed SB 152, which would make alternative education the state’s preferred school disciplinary policy rather than suspension or expulsion. The New Mexico House passed HJR 1, which would propose an amendment to create a permanent fund to help pay for early childhood education. The New Mexico Senate and House passed, and the Governor signed, SB 374, also known as the Hunger-Free Students Bill of Rights, to ensure that all children are provided with stigma-free school lunches regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. The Maryland House and Senate passed and enacted HB 516 which creates a commission to study the implementation of universal access to pre-kindergarten. The Maryland legislature passed and overrode a veto of MD HB 978, which prohibits school quality indicators from being based on student testing and requires educational accountability programs to include certain factors and stakeholder input. **Both the New York and Tennessee Governors have created plans to allow for free community college for residents of the state and older students respectively. **The Texas Senate and House passed SB 179, which would require public schools to create cyberbullying polices and establish methods for students to anonymously report cyberbullying.

Environment & Smart Growth

The Maryland House voted to override the Governor’s veto of HB 1106 which will increase the state’s use of renewable energy and create green jobs. Maryland’s House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB 1325, which prohibits the use of hydraulic fracking for the exploration or production for oil or natural gas in the state. Oregon’s House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB 2746 to encourage the use of their recycling program by doubling the payment for used soda cans and glass bottles to 10 cents each. The Maryland Senate and House passed and enacted, SB 184, which extends the state’s energy efficiency and conservation programs. **The Maine House and Senate passed LD 57, which promotes the use of reusable bags and recyclable alternatives to disposable foam food containers.  **The Maryland House and Senate passed HB 830, which bans the use of certain pesticides in areas designated as pollinator habitats in order to protect the local bee population.

Government Performance

The Maryland House and Senate passed, and the Governor passed, HB 879, which strengthens state ethics laws that apply to legislators and state officials by making financial disclosure statements publicly available, expanding conflicts of interest to include entities with which an individual is negotiating employment and prohibiting public officials from using their resources or title to solicit political contributions.  **The Tennessee House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB 58 which makes it easier for residents to request public records by expanding the modes of communication from written requests only to all forms of requests including in person, telephone, fax, email or other electronic means. The Oregon House passed HB 2577 which would increase transparency by requiring lobbyists to disclose their pay and employers and which bills and amendments they have attempted to influence.  **The Maine legislature passed LD 543, which would ban legislators from paying themselves or their own businesses from political action committees (PACs) under their control.

Health

The New Mexico Senate and House passed, and the Governor signed, SB 121, which bans providing conversion therapy to any person under 18 years of age. Oklahoma SB 83 passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and would require parents to view a video about the risks of not vaccinating a child before opting their children out of vaccination requirements.  **The Oklahoma Senate and House passed, and the Governor signed, SB 765 which would ban any person under 18 years of age from using tanning beds. **The Vermont Senate and House passed SB 16, which would expand access to medical marijuana by increasing the list of qualifying conditions and doubling the number of dispensaries in the state. The New Mexico House and Senate passed HB 175, which would have prohibited the use of solitary confinement for pregnant women, juveniles and mentally ill inmates and requires correctional facilities to submit a detailed report about the use of this practice to the state every three months but it was vetoed by the Governor.**The Nebraska legislature passed, and the Governor signed, LB 487 which would provide immunity for those who seek medical help for someone suffering from a drug overdose from criminal charges for possession or paraphernalia. The Maryland House and Senate passed and enacted SB 571 which creates a commission to monitor changes to health care programs and provide recommendations for state and local action to protect access to affordable healthcare. **The New York Assembly passed AB 3977, which would ban the practice of conversion therapy for patients under the age of eighteen. **The Ohio House passed HB 101, which seeks to make epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens) more affordable and accessible for Ohioans who need them for life threatening allergies. **The Texas House and Senate passed HB 2466 which would give low-income women in the state’s Medicaid program increased access to postpartum depression screenings and mental health care referrals.

Public Safety

The Georgia House passed HB 9, which would update Georgia’s invasion of privacy laws to make filming under or through a person’s clothing a felony in the state.  The Kentucky House passed HB 122, which would require all children under the age of 12 in the state to wear a helmet when riding a bike. The Utah House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed HB 200, which requires the testing of all sexual assault kits within a specified time frame, outlines the process by which the kits are stored and transmitted for testing, and authorizes the Department of Public Safety to develop and implement a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system. The Vermont House passed HB 25, which would establish a bill of rights for people who have been sexual assaulted. The Maryland and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB 255, which requires hospitals and government agencies to transfer a sexual assault evidence collection kit to a law enforcement agencies within a certain amount of time. The Maryland Senate and House passed HB 1163 which would allow courts to order domestic violence suspects to wear GPS devices that would alert victims if their abusers were in the area as a condition of pretrial release or probation. **The Washington legislature passed, and the Governor signed HB 1153, which encourages each county to develop a written protocol for handling criminal cases involving vulnerable adults who have a higher risk of suffering from financial exploitation or physical neglect.

Reproductive Rights

The Virginia Assembly and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB 2267 which will require health benefit plans that provide coverage for hormonal contraceptives to cover up to a 12-month supply of hormonal contraceptives.  The Colorado House and Senate passed HB 1186 and the New Mexico House passed HB 284, both of which require that health benefit plans reimburse for up to a 12-month supply of contraceptives for covered individuals. The St. Louis City Council passed Board Bill 203, which would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s reproductive health decisions. The Colorado House (HR 1005), the New Jersey Senate (SCR 78), the Vermont Senate (SR 9) and the Vermont House (HR 9) all passed resolutions supporting a woman’s right to decide her own reproductive choices. The Maryland House and Senate passed HB 613, which authorizes pharmacists to prescribe and dispense certain contraceptives. The Maryland House and Senate passed and enacted HB 1083 which protects funding for Planned Parenthood and other family planning services. **The Delaware Senate passed SB 5, which codifies the Roe v. Wade decision to keep abortion services legal in the state.

Taxation

The Alaska House passed HB 115 which would institute a progressive personal income tax. **The Maryland House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed SB 304, also called the Taxpayer Protection Act, which would give the Attorney General increased authority to fight fraudulent tax returns and preparers and identity theft. The Montana Senate passed SB 354 which would implement an additional tax on the price of a pack of cigarettes, as well as e-cigarettes and vaping products, to pay for raises given to direct health care workers who take care of elderly and disabled individuals.  **The Maryland legislature passed, and the Governor signed, SB 758 which will incentivize the use of cleaner energy by providing tax credits for residents who invest in their own energy storage.

Voting & Elections

The New Mexico Senate and House passed SB 96, which would have established campaign contribution limits and would promote greater transparency in the political spending of “dark money” groups by requiring any such group that spends more than $1,000 campaigning during an election cycle to report expenditures and provide information about certain contributors but it was vetoed by the Governor. **The New Jersey House and Senate passed SB 3048, which would require candidates for President and Vice President of the United States to disclose federal income tax returns to appear on the ballot and prohibits Electoral College electors from voting for candidates who fail to file income tax returns, but it was vetoed by the Governor. **The Nebraska Legislature passed LB 75 which would have provided for the restoration of voting rights upon completion of felony sentence or probation for a felony but was vetoed by the Governor. The Mississippi Senate and House passed, and the Governor signed, SB 2689 which works towards campaign finance reform by restricting politicians from using campaign money for personal expenses.

Wages & Benefits

The Washington House passed HB 2097, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to disclose information about their religious beliefs, practices or affiliation, prohibits state and local government agencies from using public funds to assist in the creation or enforcement of any government program compiling a registry or database of personally identifiable information about individuals based on religious beliefs, practice, or affiliation, and forbids any state and local law agencies from collecting information on the religious belief, practice or affiliation of any individual except as part of a targeted criminal investigation. The Utah House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed HB 156, which will prohibit public employers from requiring an applicant to disclose a past criminal conviction before an initial interview for employment. Philadelphia’s City Council passed City Council Bill 160840, making it the first city in the nation to forbid employers from requiring potential employees to disclose previous salary history in order to fight the pay gap between men and women. The Washington House passed HB 1506, which would prohibit retaliation against female employees for inquiring about the salaries of coworkers and would allow women to receive the same promotional opportunities as men within a company. The Georgia House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, SB 201, which allows employees to use sick leave for the care of immediate family members. The Maryland Senate passed SB 230, also known as the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which would provide employees with earned sick leave as well as accounting for maternity/paternity leave and safe time off in cases of domestic abuse The Colorado House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB 1021, which will increase transparency around wage theft by including under Colorado’s Open Records Act any findings by state labor officials that an employer engaged in wage theft.  **The Oregon House and Senate passed HB 2005 which would make it an unlawful employment practice to use gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or age, as a means to discriminate in payment of wages for comparable work and would also prohibit the practice of screening or basing salary decisions for job applicants based on their salary histories.  The Connecticut House passed HB 5591 which would ensure pay equity by prohibiting compensation discrimination on the basis of sex and prohibits time spent on leave due to pregnancy or family leave from reducing an employees’ seniority. The North Carolina House passed HB 409 which prohibits state agencies from asking for criminal histories on job applications.  The New York City Council passed Introduction 1253-A which would prohibit employers from making salary history inquires or relying on salary history to determine a prospective applicant’s salary. The Texas House and Senate passed HB 3016 which would make it easier for Texans to apply for jobs if they have a record of low-level offenses by not requiring them to disclose these offenses on their applications.  **The Connecticut House passed HB 6668, which would strengthen current protections for pregnant women employees under the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

SHARE

Progress in April 2017

Posted on April 26, 2017

** = new or updated legislation since our March 29 report Civil Rights & Liberties **The Montana House and Senate passed, and the Governor signed, HB147, which requires government agencies to get a warrant before...

SHARE

Progress in March 2017

Posted on March 29, 2017

 ** = new or updated legislation since our March 2 report Civil Rights & Liberties **The Montana House and Senate passed HB147, which requires government agencies to get a warrant before accessing data in any...

SHARE

Progress in January & February 2017

Posted on March 2, 2017

Civil Rights & Liberties The Montana House passed HB147, which requires government agencies to get a warrant before accessing data in any electronic device unless it has informed, affirmative consent of the owner. The...

SHARE

A look back at progress in states and localities during 2016

Posted on December 21, 2016

While the past year turned out to be a political disaster, a great deal of important progressive legislation was enacted in states, cities and counties across the nation. Here are the top ten progressive...

SHARE

Progressive victories by ballot initiative

Posted on November 22, 2016

While the presidential election was a disaster and other candidate elections just so-so, progressives did very well in 2016 by enacting policies through ballot initiatives. Here is a summary: Civil Rights and Liberties California...

SHARE

September 15, 2016

Posted on September 15, 2016

** Indicates new or updated legislation Civil Rights & Liberties The Iowa Senate passed SF 2284 which would make it a hate crime to commit an offense against a person because that person identifies...

SHARE

Progress in the States & Localities

Posted on September 9, 2016

SHARE

August 17, 2016

Posted on August 17, 2016

** Indicates new or updated legislation Civil Rights & Liberties The Iowa Senate passed SF 2284 which would make it a hate crime to commit an offense against a person because that person identifies...

SHARE

May 26, 2016

Posted on May 26, 2016

** Indicates new legislation since our last report Civil Rights & Liberties The Iowa Senate passed SF 2284 which would make it a hate crime to commit an offense against a person because that...

SHARE
12