The Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) commemorated the start of the 2023 Legislative Session with its fourth annual MSBA Day (previously known as “Lobby Day”) on January 24, 2023. The MSBA was delighted to welcome members to participate in MSBA Day in person for the first time since 2020. The MSBA’s nationally-recognized advocacy protects the legal profession, preserves the integrity of the judicial system, and ensures access to justice for Marylanders.
The event offered valuable information on the MSBA’s legislative priorities and key initiatives that legislators will likely introduce to the General Assembly in the 2023 Legislative Session. The panel of guests who spoke to MSBA members about issues that impact the legal profession and Marylanders included Attorney General Anthony Brown, Senator Will Smith, Chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Delegate Luke Clippinger, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Maryland Public Defender Natasasha Dartigue, and Executive Director of Maryland Legal Aid, Vicki Schultz.
David Shapiro, President of the MSBA, welcomed participants and highlighted recent MSBA advocacy successes, including defeating legislation to impose taxes on legal services in Maryland, obtaining vaccine priority for Maryland attorneys, and securing more than $40 million in civil legal aid funding.
Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum, Managing Partner of Brown Goldstein & Levy and Member of the Executive Board of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission (A2JC), kicked off the day by explaining the Commission’s mission is to ensure that the promise of justice becomes a reality for all Marylanders, rather than only for those who can afford it. During the 2023 Legislative Session, the Commission’s goals are to obtain annual budgetary allocations so that access to counsel in evictions is an established right for years to come and increase general civil legal aid funding.
Former State Senator Bobby Zirkin then moderated a discussion with Senator Will Smith and Delegate Luke Clippinger.
Delegate Clippinger reported that the Legislature and Judiciary Committee had made great strides over the last few years in increasing police accountability and access to justice and providing assistance to those facing eviction. He anticipated the General Assembly would face challenging issues this year, including how to regulate concealed carry in Maryland, statutes of limitations in child sex abuse cases, and juvenile justice. Senator Smith touched on legislation to eliminate contested judicial elections, funding access to counsel for eviction proceedings, and expungement.
Senator Chris West then discussed the legislative process and bills on expungement, contested judicial elections, and issues related to the legalization of recreational marijuana with Zirkin. Senator West also offered his perspective on juvenile justice reform and the statute of limitations for civil claims arising out of child sex abuse.
Reena Shah, Executive Director of the Maryland Access to Justice Commission, then welcomed Maryland Public Defender Natasha Dartigue and the Executive Director of Maryland Legal Aid, Vicki Schultz. Dartigue and Shultz discussed what they see as the greatest challenges in the criminal and civil justice systems and their priorities for reform in the 2023 Legislative Session and in the years to come.
Co-Chairs of the MSBA Laws Committee Kelly Hughes Iverson, Partner at Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP, and David Cahn, Partner at Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP, then explained how the Laws Committee’s structure and processes and informed members of the MSBA’s legislative priorities during the 2023 Legislative Session. MSBA members then met with members of the General Assembly and their staff, including Del. Elizabeth Embry, Del. David Moon, Del. Karen Simpson, Sen. Will Smith, Del. Kym Taylor, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, and Sen. Chris West.
The day wrapped up with keynote speaker Attorney General Anthony Brown addressing MSBA members during lunch at O’Brien’s Oyster Bar & Seafood Tavern House.
AG Brown began by thanking the MSBA for advocating for members of the legal profession so that attorneys can better serve their clients and discussed his top priorities as Attorney General. AG Brown noted he intends to invest in the people and the resources in the Office of Attorney General to better allow them to deliver government services, increase its capacity to investigate and prosecute organized crime and drug, gun, labor, and human trafficking offenses, and work to reduce recidivism rates throughout the State.
The MSBA looks forward to working with the Laws Committee and our Sections to seek impactful legislation for the remainder of the 2023 Legislative Session. For more detailed information regarding MSBA Day and the MSBA’s advocacy efforts, please visit our website. You can also access reports on bills filed during the 2023 Legislative Session that are relevant to specific practice areas here.