Maryland Assembly Enters Critical Final Week
The Maryland General Assembly entered the final week of its 2014 session with several bills of interest to AOBA members still in play. The session will end at midnight on Monday, April 7. AOBA's VP for Advocacy - Maryland Ron Wineholt has outlined the status of key bills impacting members:
Dog Liability – SB 247 and HB 73 have each passed the Senate and House, respectively, in identical form. The bills would restore rental housing owners to the common law standard of liability for injuries or death caused by a dog. HB 73 will be on the Senate floor Tuesday and should be finally enacted by mid-week.
Municipal Tax Classes – HB 492 would provide that a municipality could only establish tax classes in an ordinance separate from the annual budget ordinance, giving more transparency to the process and better allowing impacted taxpayers to defend against such actions. The bill has passed the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee.
False Claims – HB 867 would increase lawsuit exposure to any company doing business with the state or a county. The bill has passed the House and is likely to come out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee with amendments.
Minimum Wage – HB 187 , HB 295 and SB 331 – The Senate Finance Committee remains likely to report a bill out with amendments to lengthen the phase-in schedule for increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The higher local minimum wage laws in Montgomery and Prince George’s County, effective October 1, would supersede any likely state rate increase.
Interest on Security Deposits – HB 249 and SB 345 would replace the 3% interest rate on security deposits with a floating rate with a floor of 1.5%. Both bills have passed their house of origin and await action in the opposite house.
Balcony Inspections – HB 947 and SB 401 – The House and Senate have passed very different versions of this bill, with the House bill being the least restrictive. Both bills limit the new inspections to wooden railings on balconies and will likely go to conference.
Retaliatory Evictions – SB 800 and HB 1108 – The Senate has passed SB 800, which as amended would extend from 6 months to 12 months the period of time following a tenant’s protected action (e.g. reporting a health violation) that an owner’s action to evict would be deemed retaliation and subject to penalties. The House Environmental Matters Committee has yet to act on this issue.
Criminal Records Shielding – HB 1166 and SB 1056 have both been passed out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee with amendments. The bills would allow under limited circumstances an individual to petition for the removal from the Judiciary’s website of a record for certain criminal misdemeanors following a waiting period of at least 3 years after the conclusion of their probation.