General Assembly Passes Legislation to Support Statewide Sexual Assault Evidence Kits Tracking System, Bolster the State’s Efforts to Tackle the Opioid Crisis, and Strengthen the Office of Attorney General’s Authority to Protect Marylanders Under the Consumer Protection Act and Maryland Antitrust Act
BALTIMORE, MD (April 10, 2018) – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh applauded members of the General Assembly for passage of legislation that implements recommendations of the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee, provides a new tool in the effort to battle Maryland’s opioid crisis, and strengthens the authority of the Office of Attorney General to protect Marylanders in the marketplace.
“Working together with advocates and members of the General Assembly, we continue to make great strides supporting victims of sexual assault, protecting exploited seniors and protecting all Marylanders from abusive business practices” said Attorney General Frosh. “We also enhanced our ability to identify and prosecute suspicious shipments of opioids.”
Office of Attorney General Priority Legislation Passed During the 2018 Legislative Session:
- HB 1124 – Statewide Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Tracking System– The Attorney General chairs the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee. HB 1124 expands the mission of the Committee, which will now make recommendations regarding the creation and operation of a statewide sexual assault evidence collection tracking system. HB 1124 requires the Committee to submit an application for a U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) to fund the development of a statewide SAEK tracking system, the testing of Maryland’s “backlogged” kits, and other services designed to enhance the prosecution of sexual assaults and assistance provided to survivors.
In 2016, Attorney General Frosh issued a report on untested sexual assault evidence kits that included the recommendations of requiring the retention of untested kits for a minimum of 20 years except in certain circumstances, notifying victims before kit destruction, and creating a sexual assault evidence kit oversight committee – the Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee – chaired by the Attorney General. Those recommendations resulted in proposed legislation that was passed by the General Assembly in 2017.
- SB 982 – Controlled Dangerous Substances – Distributors – Reporting Suspicious Orders– Introduced at the request of the Attorney General, SB 982 provides an important tool to law enforcement and public health officials to address the opioid crisis. The bill will require drug distributors – the businesses responsible for shipping these drugs from factories to pharmacies – to report suspicious orders for controlled dangerous substances to the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Health. Suspicious orders are those orders that deviate from the normal or expected pattern of orders for prescription drugs.
- SB 891 – Maryland Antitrust Act – Civil Penalty– The Attorney General enforces antitrust laws, which promote competition and ultimately protect consumers in the marketplace. SB 891 increases the maximum civil penalty that can be imposed for an antitrust violation under the Maryland Antitrust Act from $10,000 in total to $100,000 for each day that the violation continues. The previous maximum civil fine of $10,000 was of little deterrence to large corporations that engage in lucrative price-fixing schemes over a period of several years. Larger civil fines, combined with the Office of Attorney General’s ability to obtain damages and restitution for victims, will prevent companies from profiting from their anti-competitive behavior.
- SB 1068 – Financial Consumer Protection Act of 2018– SB 1098 implements the recommendations of the Financial Consumer Protection Commission – of which the Attorney General is a member – including:
– Adds “abusive” practices to violations of the Consumer Protection Act, an Act which the Attorney General enforces;
– Increases civil penalties under the Consumer Protection Act from $1,000 to $10,000 per violation for a first violation, and from $5,000 to $25,000 per violation for a subsequent violation of the Consumer Protection Act;
– Requires that the state budget include $700,000 for new positions in the Consumer Protection Division to bring enforcement actions related to consumer finance violations where the federal government is pulling back on enforcement;
– Creates a Student Loan Ombudsman position in the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
- HB 1506 – Office of the Attorney General – Securities Commissioner – Asset Recovery for Exploited Seniors- Authorizes the Attorney General’s Securities Division to further protect the assets of seniors and from becoming victims of financial exploitation.
Since taking office four years ago, Attorney General Frosh has proposed and lobbied for the successful passage of legislation protecting the environment, the health of Marylanders, and the threat of potentially harmful federal actions. Attorney General Frosh also fought to improve Maryland’s pretrial system, ensuring that people are no longer jailed simply because they are poor. A few examples of successful legislation include:
- Maryland Defense Act – The law enabled the Maryland Attorney General to sue the federal government for illegal or unconstitutional actions.
- Prescription Drug Price Gouging – The first of its kind in the country, the law prohibited unconscionable price increases of off-patent generic drugs and authorized the Attorney General to file suit against drug manufactures over suspected price gouging.
- Structured Settlement Reform – This law created important new safeguards for injured Marylanders who face possible exploitation when offered immediate cash in exchange for a stream of payments obtained through the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit. The legislation was aimed at the industry targeting the vulnerable populations that hold these payments, such as young Baltimore residents who have been plaintiffs in lead-paint poisoning lawsuits.