MSBA Sections continue their hard work advocating for our profession and our clients in Annapolis. Here are recent highlights.
Agricultural Law Section
On Feb. 21, 2023, the Agricultural Law Section Council opposed SB657/HB776 (Commercial Law – Maryland Antitrust Act – Premerger Notification Requirement and Remedies), which would subject “every acquisition of a business and every real estate transaction of more $8,000,000.00 … to the state-level pre-transaction notification and delay process,” according to a letter submitted by Section Chair, Stephanie R. Brophy. The letter states many reasons for the Section Council’s opposition, including the Bill’s failure to identify which antitrust harm it would purportedly remedy, and that it is overly burdensome, especially in light of the threshold sum provided by the federal antitrust statute — $111,400,000.00.
Brophy further stated that “Agriculture is Maryland’s number one industry and is made up of 12,400 farms and nearly 21,300 diverse producers.” She pointed out that “if enacted this Bill makes the State of Maryland far less attractive to businesses and individuals, regardless of where they reside, because the Bill would put unnecessary restraints on alienation and may very well be an unlawful impediment to interstate commerce.”
Read Brophy’s complete written testimony. On Feb. 22, the Committee on Corporate Law of the Section of Business Law filed written testimony in opposition to this Bill as well. The MSBA is grateful for the Committee on Corporate Law’s show of comity among Sections by bringing this Bill to wider attention.
Animal Law Section
On Feb. 14, 2023, Kimberly Fullerton of the Animal Law Section testified before the House Health and Government Operations Committee in support of HB59/SB942 (Health and Wellness Standards – Correctional Facilities), introduced by Del. Terri Hill, M.D. The Bill’s position is that “the Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services should update minimum mandatory standards for inmate food services and health/wellness. The Section’s interest in this bill is that it includes optional plant based meal options for inmates,” according to Fullerton.
Business Law Section
On Feb. 10, the Business Law Section Council submitted written testimony in opposition to HB349 (Maryland Fair Scheduling Act) on the ground that it “discriminates against Food Service Facility franchisees that are actual small business owners and who, therefore, should be treated the same as owners of non-franchised restaurants that are not part of a substantial enterprise.” Read the written testimony drafted by Penny Somer-Greif and David L. Cahn, Chair and Vice Chair of the MSBA Business Law Section, respectively.
On Feb. 22, the Section Council also submitted written testimony in opposition to HB39 (Effective Corporate Tax Rate Transparency Act of 2023), which would require a publicly traded company to file a Maryland income tax return with a statement identifying its effective tax rate and how it calculated the rate. The Section opposed the bill in part because it “would impose unnecessary additional tax reporting obligations on publicly traded corporations and could make Maryland a less desirable state for publicly traded corporations to do business in and choose to locate their headquarters.” Read the written testimony drafted by Penny Somer-Greif and David L. Cahn, Chair and Vice Chair of the MSBA Business Law Section, respectively.
Criminal Law & Practice Section
On Feb. 17, 2023, Carrie J. Williams filed written testimony in support of HB427 (Criminal Procedure-Medical Emergency-Immunity) on behalf of the Section’s Legislative Committee. According to Williams, “[t]his bill clarifies Criminal Procedure § 1-210 to make clear that a person experiencing a medical emergency is immune from arrest, charge, or prosecution for drug or alcohol possession offenses if the evidence of those offenses was obtained as a result of the person seeking or receiving medical assistance.” Currently the law is ambiguous “with regard to immunity for the person who receives medical assistance.” Read Williams’ complete written testimony. Williams is the Section’s Legislative Liaison and a Member at Large of the Section Council.
Williams, on behalf of the Section’s Legislative Committee, also submitted written testimony in favor or HB411 (Criminal Procedure-Violation of Pretrial or Posttrial Condition by Incarcerated Person-Victim Contact), which, “clarifies that it is a violation for an incarcerated person to contact someone in violation of a pretrial or posttrial condition. The current language limits the violation to those on pretrial or posttrial release. To protect victims of stalking and intimate partner violence, the language should be expanded to prohibit incarcerated persons from violating pre- or posttrial contact provisions.”
Estates & Trust Law Section
On Feb. 13, The Estates & Trust Law Section submitted written testimony in opposition to HB610 (Estates – Execution of a Will – Witness Requirements), which “would disqualify as a witness [to a will] those who are an interested party or a personal representative.” The written testimony stated, “[t]here could be many reasons why a Will was witnessed by those closest to the testator. Perhaps a senior is home-bound, and the people available to witness are the children taking care of her. Perhaps the testator is in a hospital where the only permitted visitors are family members. Or, as we often found during the Pandemic, perhaps the testator must be isolated from those outside immediate family to avoid illness. Yes, it is generally good practice to use disinterested witnesses, when possible, to avoid the appearance of impropriety, but good practice need not be legislated.” Read the written testimony drafted by Christine W.Hubbard, Sarah B. Kahl, and Deborah Howe, the Section’s Chair, Vice Chair, and a Council Member at Large, respectively.
On Feb. 23, 2023, the Section also submitted written and oral testimony in support of SB792/HB755 (Estates and Trusts – Registered Domestic Partnerships), which “allows for registered domestic partnerships to have the same effect as marriage under various provisions of the Estates and Trusts Article of the Maryland Code. Among other things, it establishes (1) the requirements that must be met for a domestic partnership to be registered with the register of wills and how the domestic partnership may be terminated and (2) the benefits for which the surviving partner of a registered domestic partnership qualifies.” Read the written testimony drafted by Christine W.Hubbard, Sarah B. Kahl, and Laura Thomas, the Section’s Chair, Vice Chair, and a Council Member at Large, respectively.
Family and Juvenile Law Section
On Feb. 16, the Family and Juvenile Law Section submitted written testimony, urging a favorable with amendment report on HB440 (Child Custody – Relocation of Child – Expedited Hearing), requiring a court to schedule a hearing on a certain petition regarding the proposed relocation of a child who is the subject of a custody or visitation order on an expedited basis under certain circumstances. The Section supported a deletion of a proposed subsection as well as an amendment that the “court shall consider a proposed relocation from a minor child’s primary residence that would significantly interfere with the other parent’s ability to maintain the predetermined parenting time schedule when deciding whether to grant an expedited hearing on a Motion for Modification of Custody.” HB 440 will add an additional chance for an Expedited hearing in these child relocation cases. Read the written testimony drafted by Lindsay Parvis and Michelle Smith from the Section Council.
The MSBA actively shapes practice-based legislation and policy to realize the best possible outcomes for Maryland’s lawyers and legal professionals. Visit MSBA Advocacy to learn more. We welcome questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.