In the Maryland General Assembly, March 6, 2023 marked “[t]he final day to introduce legislation without a suspension of the rules,” according to Melinda Dunmire, the Taxation Law Section’s Communications Chair. “This means most of the bills the legislature is going to review have already been introduced. The bulk of the work going forward lays in reviewing, editing, and negotiating the content already proposed. The next major deadline is March 20, 2023, Bill Crossover Day. On Bill Crossover Day each Chamber must send to the other Chamber those bills it intends to pass favorably.”
Up to and including March 6, MSBA Member Sections have been hard at work offering their expertise, insight, and vast knowledge to the General Assembly as it deliberates new legislation. Here is a summary of only a small portion of their vast output.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
On March 3, 2023, Kathy Brissette-Minus and Erin D. Gable submitted written testimony on behalf of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section in support of “one of the goals of HB 1110: to enable students to navigate conflict and engage in productive conversations.” Brissette-Minus and Gable offered a number of suggestions to ensure the bill’s language is consistent with the current state of ADR practice and provisions of Maryland Law. They noted (1) that the word “mediator” in the bill is defined more broadly than it is in the Maryland Mediation Confidentiality Act, (2) that Community Mediation Centers, not Community Remediation Centers, are recognized entities in the mediation context, and (3) that although the bill calls for “certified” mediator to work in schools to resolve conflicts, “there is no certification required in Maryland to practice as a mediator.” (It should be noted that “there are training and continuing education requirements for mediators in Maryland courts and other settings.”) They also suggested that further clarity would be needed for the details of the role of a school-based mediator. Brissette-Minus is the Section Chair, and Gable is the Vice-Chair and the Section’s Legislation Committee Chair.
On March 6, 2023, Penny Somer-Greif submitted written testimony on behalf of the Business Law Section Council in opposition to House Bill 981 (Limited Liability Companies – Articles of Organization – Required Information), which would “require the Articles of Organization for a Maryland limited liability company to include ‘the name and home address of each member of the limited liability company,’ and to make it a misdemeanor to file Articles of Organization that a person ‘knows or has reason to know contain incorrect information’ regarding each member’s name or home address.” In making the case that this legislation would be unnecessarily burdensome and make Maryland a less business draw, Somer-Greif wrote, “No surrounding state, or other U.S. state to our knowledge, requires provision of the names of a limited liability company’s members to form a limited liability company, let alone their residential street address.” She further detailed how the bill as written would be unlikely to result in full disclosure and pointed out that it “singles out one form of business entity for unfavorable treatment, without any evident basis.” Somer-Greif is the Section Chair.
On March 2, 2023, Carrie J. Williams submitted written testimony on behalf of the Legislative Committee of the Criminal Law and Practice Section in support of SB754 (Maryland Wiretap and Electronic Surveillance Reform Workgroup), which would create “a workgroup to study potential reform of Maryland’s wiretap and electronic surveillance laws.” Williams stated that, ‘[t]here have been calls for reform of Maryland’s laws in this area for years without success. A workgroup to study the effectiveness, necessity, and purpose for these laws would be helpful in determining the appropriate reforms.” Williams is Chair of the Section’s Legislative Committee.
On March 6, 2023, DeAndre Morrow submitted written testimony on behalf of the Taxation Law Section’s Legislative Committee in support of SB660 (Office of the Comptroller-Taxpayer Advocate Division), which would “establish a Taxpayer Advocate Division within the Office of the Comptroller to assist taxpayers and their representatives resolve taxpayer problems and complaints.” Noting that the bill replicates the function of the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which Congress established on the federal level, Morrow wrote that the bill could be improved if the state office would mirror the federal office in three ways: (1) the state office should establish “a taxpayer rights charter which include basic rights such as Due Process, a right to review, etc.”, (2) the state office should have “similar reporting requirements as the federal office,” and (3) the state office should have the ability “to pause collection activity after they accept a case.” His testimony includes several proposed technical amendments to bring the first two points into effect. DeMorrow is a Section Member-at-Large and Member of the Section’s Legislative Committee.
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.