Dozens of newly elected Delegates and Senators are participating in the lawmaking process for the first time during Maryland’s 2023 Legislative Session. While some of the incumbent and new legislators have legal backgrounds, many do not. Regardless of their experience with the language of law, members of the General Assembly are tackling significant issues and crafting impactful legislation.
As MSBA President David Shapiro commented during MSBA Day, “our members partner closely with legislators to offer legal insights, practical advice, [and] technical drafting assistance.”
The guidance and expertise of MSBA members is especially important when it comes to crafting comprehensive and precise laws. When analyzing the potential impact proposed bills could have on the legal profession and the judiciary, access to justice, and other issues important to the MSBA, the Laws Committee often focuses on the nuances of the language of the legislation. Many of the issues currently before the General Assembly are being addressed for the first time, and it is critical that the bills are carefully worded to avoid unwanted consequences. For example, if language is too broad or certain words or phrases are missing, it could inadvertently change the bill’s intent.
The Laws Committee also works with the sections and in some instances will defer to sections that have a greater interest in the outcome of certain bills. Kelly Huges Iverson, Laws Committee co-chair explained, “we’re really trying to draw in as many different voices as we can, in order to sift through everything and then decide whether to take a position and if so what that position should be.” The Laws Committee frequently reaches out to the sponsors of bills to obtain additional information before solidifying its position as well.
The work of the Laws Committee and sections does not go unnoticed by the General Assembly; Senator Will Smith spoke about the importance of the Judicial Proceedings Committee’s partnership with the MSBA during MSBA Day, stating that MSBA members “all have expertise in specific areas of the law that can help us develop really sound policy.” He looks forward to deepening that partnership as he believes it will benefit both the legal profession and the citizens of Maryland.
The MSBA will continue to update you throughout the 2023 Legislative Session. You can learn more about the MSBA’s Laws Committee and Section’s advocacy efforts here as well. You can reach the MSBA advocacy team to ask questions or offer input at firstname.lastname@example.org.