Each January, the Maryland General Assembly convenes to begin its legislative session. During the session, the MSBA not only monitors hundreds of bills but also supports legislation that protects the legal profession, preserves the integrity of the judicial system, and ensures access to justice for Marylanders. The MSBA’s practice-based Sections and Laws Committee regularly offers insight and perspective to legislators on the potential impact of bills as well. 

The MSBA’s advocacy takes many forms, including drafting bills and amendments, providing testimony and advice to legislators, mobilizing MSBA members on priority bills, and convening our members and legislators. Throughout the 2023 session, the MSBA provided bi-weekly bill reports to members with relevant bills and held weekly calls with Section legislative liaisons to discuss advocacy strategies and priority issues. The MSBA regularly features advocacy content and updates through our various channels, including our website, e-weekly, Section newsletters, Maryland Bar Journal, and social media.The MSBA was pleased that several of our priority bills passed this year. Several other bills impacting the legal profession passed as well. 

The following MSBA-supported bills, which impact the legal profession, go into effect on October 1, 2023.


Corporations and Associations – Revisions (HB209)

HB209, sponsored by the Committee on Corporation Law of the MSBA’s Business Law Section, is a combination of fixes to highly technical corporate laws, including 1) allowing a corporation’s charter or bylaws to provide for ex officiodirectors, 2) clarifying that stock certificates may not be issued in bearer form, 3) clarifying annual meeting requirements for investment companies, and, 4) establishing a Notice of Termination requirement with SDAT for termination of real estate investment trusts.


Probation Before Judgment – Probation Agreements (HB193/SB211)

HB193/SB211 amends the probation before judgment statute to remove negative, unintended consequences, including immigration deportation and detention and the loss of professional opportunities and licenses.  The MSBA was proud to work with the bill sponsors and stakeholders to secure amendments and passage to benefit Marylanders, after several years of advocacy.

Sexual Crimes – Repeal of Spousal Defense (HB4/SB129)

HB4/SB129 finally closed the loophole of the “spousal defense,” which prohibited prosecution of a spouse for charges of rape and sexual offenses. The MSBA has provided leadership on this issue for years, with our Family and Juvenile Law Section noting that this law “will provide the highest level of support and relief for victims of sexual assault, including those married to their perpetrator.”


Registers of Wills – Electronic Filing and Signature (HB255/SB253)

HB255/SB253 updates the current law to allow electronic filing for submission of documents to the Register of Wills, saving money and time for Marylanders.

Trusts – Decanting (Maryland Trust Decanting Act) (HB687/SB446)

HB687/SB446 provides clear authority for when a trust may be decanted. 

The MSBA’s Estates and Trusts Section secured unanimous passage of this Act to provide more certainty and flexibility for trustees to modify the terms of an irrevocable trust to further a settlor’s objectives.  


Grounds for Divorce (HB14/SB36)

HB14/SB36 altered the grounds for which the Maryland courts can issue a limited or absolute divorce decree. In part, HB14/SB36 provides that parties can live “separate and apart” for purposes of obtaining an absolute divorce, even if they reside under the same roof, and allows parties to obtain divorces based on irreconcilable differences, which is commonly referred to as no-fault divorce.  

The MSBA’s Family Law Section led a significant effort to allow for divorces based on no-fault grounds, noting that the bill “will streamline Maryland’s current divorce law and allow our citizens to file and obtain divorces with less waiting time, less expense and less acrimony.”

The ability to make a difference in Annapolis is just one of the many reasons we need all legal professionals to belong to the MSBA to ensure we remain a strong and vibrant association. Thank you for your support. Visit us at msba.org/advocacy and contact us at advocacy@msba.org.