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Notable Bills Which Took Effect on October 1, 2021

Complete Listing of All Legislation Taking Effect October 1, 2021: https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/Pubs/LegisLegal/2021-effective-dates-october.pdf

Since 1992, October 1st has been the standard effective date for non-budgetary bills passed by the Maryland General Assembly. Below are selected bills passed during the 2021 General Assembly session, which may not have received the degree of notoriety as omnibus Police Reform Act (July 1st effective date), Transfer of the Baltimore City Police Department back to Baltimore City Control (June 1st effective date), or Sports Wagering (Emergency Bill, signed and effective May 18, 2021).

HB18 (Chapter 746) – Landlord and Tenant – Residential Tenants – Access to Counsel

Delegate W. Fisher

The bill, as introduced, would have created a right to counsel for income-qualified renters facing eviction. However, the bill was heavily amended to provide instead “Access to Counsel” provided by the MD Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) to be provided through qualified grantees. However, the funding mechanism for the “Access to Counsel” provisions resided in a different bill, House Bill 31, which contained increases in certain court filing fee surcharges. House Bill 31 failed in the final hours of the 2021 session, leaving the Access to Counsel Program without a dedicated funding stream through which MLSC would fund the Program.

HB 1261 (Chapter 686) Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Directives – Electronic Execution

Delegate W. Fisher

The bill allows wills and powers of attorney to be executed electronically and witnessed remotely. Additionally, the bill allows written or electronic advance directives to be witnessed remotely. The provisions of the bill are consistent with Governor Hogan’s executive order from March 30, 2020.

SB 327 (Chapter 311) – Civil Actions – Financial Exploitation of Susceptible Adults and Older Adults (Maryland SAFE Act)

Senator Waldstreicher

Authorizes the Division of Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General to bring a civil action on behalf of susceptible adults and older adults; authorizes the Securities Commissioner of the Division of Securities in the Office of the Attorney General to initiate a civil action on behalf of susceptible adults and older adults.

SB 178 (Chapter 62)   Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 – Search Warrants and Inspection of Records Relating to Police Misconduct (Anton’s Law) 

Senator Carter 

Requires that an application for a no–knock search warrant must be approved in writing by a police supervisor and the State’s Attorney; requiring most no–knock warrants be executed between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.; requiring a custodian of records to allow inspection of certain records by certain persons; and specifying that a record pertaining to an administrative or criminal investigation of misconduct by a police officer is not a personnel record.

SB 600 (Chapter 132)    Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021 – Surplus Military Equipment and Investigation of Deaths Caused by Police Officers

Senator Smith

Prohibits a state or local law enforcement agency from receiving equipment from the federal government for the transfer of surplus military equipment; requires a law enforcement agency to notify the Independent Investigative Unit in the Office of the Attorney General of a charged or potential police-involved death of a civilian; and establishes the Independent Investigative Unit in the Office of the Attorney General to investigate alleged or possible police-involved deaths of civilians.

HB 289 (Chapter 341) Peace Orders – Workplace Violence

Delegate Atterbeary

Allows an employer to seek a peace order that alleges the commission of criminal acts against an employee at the employee’s workplace. Under the bill, the employer must notify the employee before filing for the peace order. An employer may not retaliate against an employee who does not provide information for, or testify at a peace order proceeding. The bill provides that an employer is immune from civil liability for failure of the employer to file a petition for a peace order on behalf of an employee. However, the uncodified immunity provision sunsets on October 1, 2023.

HB 425 Chapter 145) Criminal Law – Crimes Involving Computers

Delegate Barron

Prohibits a person from knowingly possessing and distributing computer ransomware with the intent to interrupt or impair the functioning of a health care facility or a public school; prohibiting a person from knowingly possessing certain ransomware with the intent to use the ransomware for purposes of introduction into a computer, network, or system of another person. The bill establishes a penalty of 2 years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine or both for violation of this Act. 

 

Other key legislation supported by MSBA but not listed here included SB 413 (Chapter 807) – Maryland Legal Services Corporation Funding – Abandoned Property, which raised the MLSC annual appropriation from the State Abandoned Property Fund from $2M to $8M per year), took effect back on July 1, 2021.