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Legislative Liaison: Sandra Popp
The Maryland General Assembly’s 428th Legislative Session began on January 12, 2011 and adjourned on April 11, 2011. During the Session, the Maryland State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section (YLS) took positions on two pieces of legislation.
The first was House Bill 523 – Courts – Fee for the Special Admission of an Out-of State Attorney – Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program. As indicated by the bill’s title, the legislation pertains to the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program (LARP), which is overseen by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). LARP provides loan repayment assistance to Maryland residents who provide public service in Maryland State or local government or nonprofit agencies in Maryland to low income or underserved residents. This legislation increases the fee assessed by the State Court Administrator for special admission of an out-of-state attorney from $25.00 to $100.00. The entire $75.00 increase will be paid to LARP and will directly assist eligible law school graduates whose applications for loan repayment assistance under LARP were previously denied by MHEC due to insufficient funds. YLS strongly supported this legislation for two reasons. YLS is especially committed to public service and recognizes the dire need to help low income, underserved residents or underserved areas in the State. YLS acknowledges that the low salaries often associated with these positions combined with excessive student loan debt tend to deter young lawyers from accepting positions in the public service field. Thus, YLS believes that LARP will serve as an incentive to increase employment in these areas. Additionally, YLS believes that creating a sustainable funding source for LARP is crucial. House Bill 523 passed the Maryland General Assembly on April 1, 2011 and was signed into law by the Governor on April 12, 2011. The legislation becomes effective on October 1, 2011.
The second was House Bill 623 – Income Tax – Subtraction Modification – Student Loan Payments for Qualified Attorneys. This bill would have created a subtraction modification against the State income tax for student loan payments incurred by an individual to attend law school and employed by the State, a local government, or a nonprofit organization (except for judicial clerks). The subtraction modification included both the amount of interest and principal paid during the year. YLS also strongly supported this legislation. As stated above, YLS is especially committed to public service and understands that the need to fill positions in the public service field is extremely important, especially in this economy. YLS believes that such legislation would incentivize young lawyers to accept positions in the public service field. Unfortunately, this bill never made it out of the House Ways and Means Committee.
If you are interested in learning more about the legislation that was before the Maryland General Assembly, please visit http://mlis.state.md.us. If you wish to view the legislation that passed both houses, please visit http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/passedbills.htm. In addition if you have any questions about legislation that was before the general assembly or about the legislative process, please send an email to Sandy Popp at firstname.lastname@example.org.