Maryland State Delegate Shane Pendergrass (D-Howard), with 42 co-sponsors, introduced House Bill 370, Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End-of-Life Option Act, on January 25, 2017 (Maryland State Senator Guy Guzzone cross-filed SB 354 on the same day). The first House hearing on the bill, in the Health and Government Operations and Judiciary Committees (joint hearing), took place on February 16, 2017; our Board President, George Eighmey, testified at the hearing. No vote took place.
On March 3, sponsors of the companion bills withdrew them from consideration, citing lack of support.
Del. Pendergrass, with 41 co-sponsors, and Senator Ron Young (D-Frederick) with 12 co-sponsors, introduced an updated version of the previous year’s Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death With Dignity Act, titled Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End of Life Option Act. The bills were cross-filed in the House and Senate; the House version was HB 0404, the Senate version was S 0418.
The first House hearing, in the Health and Government Operations and Judiciary Committees, took place on February 19, 2016 (this was a joint hearing for the two committees where the bill was assigned); the first Senate hearing, in the Judicial Proceedings Committee, took place on February 25. On March 2, Sen. Young withdrew the bill from consideration by the Committee due to a lack of support; Del. Pendergrass signaled she would likewise not put the bill up for a vote.
Despite the bills not passing, Del. Pendergrass expressed optimism, commenting in the Baltimore Sun, “I’m always an optimist. If it doesn’t pass in one year, there’s always another year, and eventually it will pass. So the question is when it will pass, not will it pass.”
Del. Pendergrass plus 37 co-sponsors, and Sen. Young, plus 7 co-sponsors, introduced cross-filed bills, SB 0676 and HB 1021, the Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death With Dignity Act. Following committee hearings in both chambers, on April 1 the decision was made to not put the bill up for a vote. The bill was then heard in summer study hearings on September 9 and October 6.
A Goucher poll showed that 60 percent of Marylanders support the legislation.
The 2015 and 2016 sessions were the third and fourth time, respectively, a Death with Dignity bill was considered in the Maryland legislature. Maryland had considered physician-assisted death legislation in 1995 with HB 933 and in 1996 with HB 474, Physician Aid in Dying.