This year, MSBA advocated in Annapolis on a broad spectrum of issues affecting the legal profession, including corporation law revisions, criminal justice, family law, estate document execution, and judicial transparency. MSBA thanks the diligent efforts of Section members and Laws Committee members for their contributions to our collective advocacy.
Several of these bills impacting the legal profession took effect on October 1, 2022. Below are some bills of note. You can view all legislation that took effect on October 1 here.
Bills Impacting Corporations and Businesses
MSBA’s Business Law Section successfully drafted and secured passage of three important bills impacting corporations and businesses around the state.
- HB 342/SB 261 authorizes an LLC to provide for the transfer or assignment of an interest irrespective of membership. The bill also authorizes an LLC member to retain a non-economic interest under certain circumstances.
- HB 996/SB 879 establishes a process for ratification of defective corporate acts, requires specific filing procedures for corporations ratifying a defective corporate act, authorizes a person or entity to file an action contesting ratification, and applies the Act to real estate investment trusts.
- HB 999/SB 431 revises and clarifies laws related to the formation, organization, and operation of corporations.
Expansion and Modernization of Estates and Trusts Practice
Prior to the pandemic, Maryland did not permit a last will and testament to be executed electronically or remotely. However, as the pandemic progressed, MSBA and its Estates and Trusts Section strongly and effectively advocated for the safe and efficient execution of remote documents. As a result, Governor Hogan issued several Emergency Orders allowing these practices. However, effective August 15, 2021, the Emergency Order lapsed and these important rights vanished.
Throughout the 2021 and 2022 sessions, MSBA worked to revise the Estates and Trusts Article to allow long-term implementation of these execution methods.
In 2022, MSBA also worked to secure passage of SB 36, which permits the acknowledgement of a last will and testament executed remotely to be made by a notary, or alternatively, by a supervising attorney. The bill also authorizes remote notarization of wills and trusts, allowing practitioners to better serve their clients through modern methods.
Funding for Access to Counsel in Evictions
In 2021, MSBA was proud to support and partner with the Access to Justice Commission, the Attorney General’s Access to Counsel in Evictions Task Force, and other civil legal aid organizations to help pass HB18, a bill offering access to counsel in evictions, making Maryland the second state in the country to offer this assistance to renters. However, the law did not identify a funding source for the program.
This year, MSBA and the Access to Justice Commission continued their advocacy on behalf of vulnerable Marylanders. We pursued funding and secured over $25 million for the law from both Governor Hogan and the legislature for the first two years of the program.
Throughout the 2022 session, Governor Hogan pushed for greater transparency through his Judicial Transparency Act that required information to be published on sentences handed down by judges for violent crimes. The original bill HB 412/SB 392 identified sentencing data by a specific judge. MSBA proposed identifying sentencing data by judicial circuit instead of by specific judge to protect judicial independence and safety . Although that bill did not pass, MSBA’s suggestion was rolled into another bill, SB 763/HB 1429, that passed just before the end of session.
Increased Judicial Salaries
The Judicial Compensation Commission recommended pay increases for judges statewide in a joint resolution. The resolution was automatically enacted (as there was no adoption by the General Assembly), providing for gradual salary increases at the district, circuit, and appellate levels. Judges are scheduled to receive a $10,000 salary increase each year for four years beginning July 1, 2022. MSBA supports the raises to keep judicial salaries competitive and to attract and retain a diverse and high-quality group of judges throughout the state.
Spousal Privilege Exception
MSBA’s Family and Juvenile Law Section supported the passage of HB 210, providing that the spouse of a person on trial for a crime may be compelled to testify as an adverse witness if the spouse and the person on trial married after the date on which the alleged crime for which the person is on trial occurred.