Maryland State House
Maryland State House
Keep car buyers and drivers safe
On July 29th, 2005, I lost my birth daughter, Amber Rose. She was one of the first victims of General Motors’ faulty ignition switch, which prevented her airbag from deploying. Amber Rose was one of 153 known deaths caused by the defective part. General Motors became aware of the issue of the ignition switch back in 2004, but instead of warning consumers, they tried to cover it up. Carmakers like General Motors often try to silence dealers from telling buyers about potential defects unless there is an actual recall. But as General Motors proved, they also often make great efforts to prevent a recall from happening, putting profits before lives. I often wonder how many dealers knew about the faulty ignition switch. Could the person who have sold Amber Rose her vehicle warned her about the issue? This is why I’m working with Maryland lawmakers to pass the Amber Rose Bill, which would give free speech protections to Maryland dealers who wish to disclose potential issues to consumers. Dealers constantly receive technical bulletins from car companies about issues. They should be allowed to share what they know with potential buyers. Amber and I shared a close relationship. Even though she had been adopted by another family, good fortune reunited us and we saw each other daily. She brought happiness to all who knew her. That is why I won’t let Amber’s, or the other 153 victims’ deaths, be in vain. The Amber Rose Bill is just one way to keep their memory alive. Consumers need to have better access to important safety and product information about their cars. It’s time to curb abusive practices by the big automakers, including retaliation, audits, limits on ability to disclose information, that make it difficult for local auto dealers to do the right thing for their customers. This legislation will do just that. Let the Maryland legislature and Governor Hogan know you support the Amber Rose bill.
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
Marylanders: Please Help Bring Human Trafficking to an End in Maryland!
The 2011 Maryland Legislative Session ends on April 11th and your help is needed to help move several important human trafficking bills before it is too late! These important bills will clamp down on the brutal crime of human trafficking, help victims, provide new investigative tools to law enforcement and increase the penalties for human traffickers. But your help is needed to urge the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to move these bills forward! There are several ways to help. In fact, a 30 second phone call to your legislators can make an incredible difference. You can find out who your legislators are HERE (be sure to click the box for House of Delegates and State Senate). The names of your senator and your 2-3 delegates will appear on the left hand side. Here are the bills: - SB 247 and HB 418: Asset Forfeiture for Convicted Human Traffickers Human trafficking is committed for one reason: profit. This legislation provides for the forfeiture of assets derived from or used in connection with human trafficking activity. Proceeds from the assets are directed into the newly created Anti-Human Trafficking Fund, for grants to law enforcement and victim service organizations to respond to human trafficking. In 2010 and in 2011 this bill passed the full Senate unanimously. In the House, however, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee refused to bring it to a vote in 2010, and without strong support from the public he may do the same this year. - SB 299 and HB 345 - Human Trafficking – InvestigationsThis bill will add human trafficking to the list of exceptions to the one party consent law to allow wiretapping and electronic surveillance during a human trafficking investigation. Crimes now excluded from the ban on wiretapping include child pornography, rape, and murder, among others. - SB 327 and HB 266 - Human Trafficking Victims Support Act (2 parts)Vacating Convictions would provide for the removal of any convictions for commercial sex for anyone later found to be a victim of human trafficking under state or federal law. Restitution to provide courts with the authority to order that a defendant pay out his gains from labor or sex trafficking to the victim, or compensate the claimant for his or her losses. - HB 674 - Education - Human Trafficking - Awareness, Training, and Distribution of Materials This bill will require the State Department of Education, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to provide awareness and training for the Directors of Student Services in local education agencies on human trafficking. This important bill will help educators and school employees to better recognize the signs of human trafficking. - HN 1304 - Human Trafficking in Truckstops This legislation will require rest areas and truck stops in Maryland, key locations for sex trafficking crimes, to post the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (888-3737-888) in bathrooms, so victims may access help and tipsters can report anything they find, confidentially, 24 hours a day. Click here to visit our action alert. Photo Credit: M.V. Jantzen
Tina's Law: Domestic Violence Offender Registry
On the morning of November 24th 2017, Tina Stewart was brutally murdered by her boyfriend. Tina's boyfriend beat her to death; beating her to the point that he broke both of his own hands. On the day of court the judge stated, "This individual has a history with violence and why wasn't this known?". It was at the moment, Don Estes, Tina's Uncle, made a promise to his niece, he would do everything in his power to change the law so there wouldn't be a next time that a judge, girlfriend, boyfriend, or anyone have the need to ask why they weren't aware of someone's violent history. It's time to make a difference. It's time to take a stand. And, it's time to change the law! We have a registry for sex offenders and we even have a registry for animal cruelty across the country. Why do we not have one for individuals that are abusing men, women, and children? Tina's Law would require any person with a history of domestic violence, violent offenders, and individuals with Protection Orders Against them to be registered; similar to sex offenders. We need to hold these individuals accountable for their actions. Making this change in the law across all states would prevent someone that's been charged (as mentioned above) from moving to another state and starting over, as if they've never been convicted of a crime. This would be a national registry so hiding or moving to another state is not going to keep anyone from knowing their history with violence. If you're convicted of domestic violence, you will go on the registry. If Tina had known about her boyfriend's violent history, she would have never gone out with him. This law will save lives! We need your help by taking a stand with us to change the law. We're not only asking you to sign the petition, we're asking you to also share the petition and help us with making a change.