Hello, and welcome to the MSBA Legislation blog page. For those of you who do not know me, I’m Richard Montgomery, Legislative Director for the MSBA. The opening of the 2015 Session marks the beginning of my 12th Regular Session with the MSBA (we won’t talk about all those Special Sessions), and my very first full Session blogging from Annapolis.
As you can tell by the layout and color scheme of this page, I have absolutely no taste in web page design. Hopefully, my very knowledgeable co-workers in the MSBA Web Site Coordination Group at Bar Center in Baltimore will see this page and decide to rescue me from prolonged embarrassment, and “trick-out” my page for me.
Generally, I will update this blog on a weekly basis in the form of a Weekly Legislative Recap. However, as time permits, I hope to provide my take on the news of the day in Annapolis, especially on days when key hearings or Committee votes on bills of importance to the MSBA take place. So, I hope that will provide enough incentive for all of you reading this to subscribe to my blog – however it is that you do that on your PC or Mac. Be warned, however, occasionally I may break up the monotony of my constant legislative yammering with my thoughts of the week on, oh, I don’t know. . . maybe like. . . how is it that 11 footballs all lost almost exactly 2 lbs. of air pressure at almost the exact the same rapid rate, in an extraordinarily short period of time? And why is it taking the Patriots so long to find the unpaid rogue ball-boy (who we all know acted alone) and throw him under the bus and be done with it. . . You get it.
Week 1 (the week ending January, 23, 2015)
Although the Maryland General Assembly convened for its 435th Regular Session on Wednesday, January 14, 2015, nothing of significance, other than the election of the Presiding Officers, really meaningful happened for the first 3 days of Session (Wed-Fri). Well, I did see a lot of lost-looking newly elected legislators and staffers trying to find their way around. Also, there were a few scuffles among legislative staffers over the “rightful ownership” of various pieces of furniture, but none of those incidents required paramedics, or made the evening news.
Additionally, the various Committees have begun receiving briefings on a wide variety of subjects, including State budget, shared child custody, “fracking,” decriminalization of marijuana paraphernalia, and background concerning pretrial release measures expected for introduction to further address the right to counsel conferred under the Richmond decisions.
Obviously, the big day in Annapolis last week was Inauguration Day. Inaugurations are always cool, despite how much of a logistical nightmare they create in terms of parking and added security. Security seemed a bit more heightened that day, due to the presence of New Jersey Governor Christie. (Aren’t you proud of me for not describing security as having been “beefed up?”) Inauguration Day is always pleasing because of all the pomp and ceremony, and the uniform colors of all the various military and law enforcement personnel and color guards. And this year there was snow. It was hardly even nuisance snow, but just enough to make the day prettier and more memorable.
Governor Larry Hogan unveiled his first State budget on Friday. Budget briefings for each of the Standing Committees of the legislature will be conducted all next week. As I have learned over the years, very little is learned from simply reading the Budget Bill (House Bill 70 / Senate Bill 55) or the narrative contained in the budget books prepared by the Governor’s Department of Budget and Management. The true story begins to be told when the Department of Legislative Services prepares its analyses of the (proposed) budgets of the Judiciary and each State agency. Those analyses are prepared for budget hearing to be held by the subject matter subcommittees of the Senate Budget & Taxation and House Appropriations Committees Remember, those Committees cannot add money to a budget, but they can, and do, cut proposed appropriations. Budget hearings begin in the first week of February.
Now, on to MSBA business. . .
On Tuesday, January 20th, the MSBA Board of Governors met in Taneytown, MD. The only 4 bills on the MSBA Committee on Laws (COL) report that evening were 3 of the 10 bills that comprise the legislative package of the Maryland Judicial Conference***. The COL recommended that the Board support each of the bills, as introduced. Those bills were:
SB 61 ACTIVE ARMED FORCES MEMBER – EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF FEES FOR CERTAIN COURT RECORDS
Richard A. Montgomery III