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MSBA Sections have been hard at work advocating for the profession in and beyond the halls of the Annapolis. Here are some highlights of Section activity in the first month of the 2023 legislative session.

Animal Law Section

On Feb. 8, 2023, Kimberly Fullerton, Treasurer of the Animal Law Section, testified before the House Environment and Transportation Committee in favor of HB188, which would mandate certain qualifications and representation of appointments to the Wildlife Advisory Commission. Fullerton’s written testimony stated that “advisory board membership requirements should be updated to include a member from academia with expertise in environmental science. Membership should also include diverse representation from key stakeholders.”

Fullerton also testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Feb. 9, 2023 in favor of SB279, which establishes protections for companion animals and due process rights during an eviction. Noting that a companion animal is designated as property, Fullerton’s written testimony states that “certain circumstances which deprive tenants of their pets will trigger constitutional protections of the Due Process Clause.” It concludes that SB279’s procedures “appropriately satisfy due process requirements.”

The primary sponsor of SB279 is Sen. Jeffrey Waldstreicher who recently appeared at an Animal Law Section meeting and, according to Fullerton, “is a champion for animal law issues.”

Kimberly Fullerton provides virtual testimony to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB279.

Agricultural Law Section

Anthony Gorksi, Legislative Liaison of the Agriculture Law Section, reported that the Section’s Council voted to support the agricultural education initiative advanced by the Maryland Farm Bureau, in partnership with the Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association and the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation. 

The purpose of the initiative is to “gain broad support for agricultural education in Maryland,” according to the sign-on letter the Council signed to demonstrate organizational commitment to this important goal. The letter states, in part, “[We] support agricultural education as being critical and necessary for creating the foundation that students, as future citizens, need to make educated decisions regarding food choices and nutrition, community issues, land use planning, farming business operations, and natural resource conservation.”

Business Law Section

On Jan. 25, 2023, Bill Carlson, Chair of the Business Law Section Committee on Corporation Law, testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB58, an annual bill drafted by the Section to provide technical updates and changes to the Corporations and Associations Article related to (1) the issuance of stock or convertible securities as part of a conversion; (2) stock certificates, scrip, and limited liability company (LLC) certificates issued in bearer form; (3) remote participation at stockholders’ meetings; (4) conversions of a close corporation; (5) directors of a nonstock corporation; (6) dissolution of a real estate investment trust (REIT); and (7) the Maryland Control Share Acquisition Act and statutory trusts. The bill also makes other technical and clarifying changes.

The MSBA is grateful to Sen. Jeffrey Waldstreicher, Sen. Christopher West, and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee for their partnership on this important issue that positively impacts business practice around the state.  

Criminal Law & Practice Section

On January 24, 2023, Carrie Williams, Criminal Law Section Legislative Liaison, provided written testimony in support of HB47 – Correctional Services – Medical Parole – Life Imprisonment, repealing provisions relating to gubernatorial approval of a decision of the Maryland Parole Commission to grant medical parole to an inmate serving a sentence of life imprisonment. Williams’ written testimony states that the bill “closes the gap left by the adoption of legislation that removed the Governor from other parole decisions. The growing number of inmates in the state penal system who are in need of a high degree of medical care poses continuing problems for the State. Removing an obstacle that can prevent the release of inmates who need care and who no longer pose a danger to the public is a wise action.”

Estate &  Trust Law Section

On February 9, 2023, Estates and Trusts Section member Laura Thomas testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB 253 – Estates and Trusts – Registers of Wills – Electronic Filing and Signatures. The bill would update current law to allow electronic filing for submission of documents to the Register of Wills, a practice that began during COVID and greatly aided legal practitioners and their clients. Thomas testified, “As our members discovered during COVID, the ease of filing documents electronically with the Registers of Wills allowed us to serve our clients and residents of this state in an economical way. We could transfer documents back and forth with clients without mailing the documents and incurring additional time and cost. We could file those documents via e-mail with the Registers of Wills, receive confirmation of the filing immediately, and again save the expense and time of mailing original documents to the Registers. E-filing saves money and time, both of which are important to the residents of this state.”

The MSBA thanks Sen. Christopher West for sponsoring this bill and working closely with section members to obtain support.

Laura Thomas testifies before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB253.

Thanks to all of our members who work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of the profession.

MSBA Advocacy

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 advocacy@msba.org.