On Thursday, January 23, 2020, the MSBA held its first-ever Lobby Day in Annapolis. The event was a partnership between the MSBA and the Maryland Access to Justice Commission (A2J). MSBA President, Dana O. Williams, along with A2J Commission Chair, Ward B. Coe III welcomed a contingent of MSBA member volunteers to Annapolis to meet with key leaders of the Maryland General Assembly on a variety of issues that will be considered during the 90-day legislative session. The purpose of Lobby Day was to involve participation by MSBA members to meet face-to-face with key members of the Maryland General Assembly on selected issues that MSBA believes will be up for consideration during the 2020 Legislative Session.
The day began with a welcome breakfast at the Governor Calvert House, where President Williams and Mr. Coe outlined the inspiration behind their joint effort to enhance the visibility and influence of the MSBA and the A2J Commission before the Maryland legislature. The contingent was led by President Williams, Mr. Coe, and included volunteer representatives from the MSBA Committee on Laws, as well as the Sections on Alternative Dispute Resolution, Business Law, Correctional Reform, Criminal Law & Practice, Elder & Disability Law, Family & Juvenile Law, Litigation, Real Property, State & Local Government, and Taxation.
Eight groups of MSBA members conducted pre-scheduled meetings with members of the Senate and the House of Delegates. Because most legislative issues faced by the MSBA and A2J are introduced before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (JPR) and the House Judiciary Committee (JUD), the meetings were set with the Chairs and Vice-chairs of those 2 Committees. Meetings were held with House Judiciary Chair, Delegate Luke Clippinger, and Judiciary Vice-chair, Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, Senate JPR Chair, Senator Will Smith and Vice Chair, Senator Jeff Waldstreicher. Additional meetings were held with influential members of Senate JPR and House JUD.
After the MSBA/A2J meetings with legislators, there was a joint MSBA/A2J Lobby Day Luncheon. Featured Speakers at the Luncheon included, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Mary Ellen Barbera, who spoke on the pressing need to eliminate contested judicial elections, and Attorney General Brian Frosh, who spoke on the ongoing need to protect and expand funding for civil legal services. Sen. JPR Chairman Will Smith and House JUD Chairman Luke Clippinger each spoke on themes consistent with those of CJ Barbera and AG Frosh. Delegate Emily Shetty, herself an advocate on Capitol Hill, spoke on the importance of vigilant advocacy before legislative bodies, both on policy and funding matters.