December 15, 2010
Dear MSBA Member:
I am delighted to present to you the summary of the Maryland State Bar Association’s (MSBA) efforts on your behalf during the 2010 General Assembly session as well as what the Association anticipates for the upcoming 2011 session through our Legislative Preview.
During the 2010 session of the Maryland General Assembly, the MSBA was instrumental in supporting the efforts to create critical funding for the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC). The precipitous decrease in IOLTA funding caused by the dramatic drop in interest rates caused MLSC to fall far short of the ability to provide civil legal services to the poor of Maryland. The passage of this legislation was a welcome respite from the strain of concern about how to continue to provide the legal services to those who are least able to afford them.
The MSBA was very pleased in the 2009 session to support the Judicial Compensation Commission’s recommendation of a long-awaited increase in the judiciary’s salaries. Unfortunately, the economic times then, and again in the 2010 session, caused the General Assembly to again defer such action. The MSBA remains committed to the elimination of contested judicial elections and is hopeful that events occurring since the last session will encourage the General Assembly to positively consider this long overdue change in how we choose Circuit Court judges. The aftermath of the Public Defender’s Office controversy in 2009 resulted in the General Assembly passing legislation, supported by the MSBA, to modify the governance of that office. Among the notable actions that the MSBA took great interest in and had its voice heard was the effort to remove funds from the Real Property Record Improvement Fund. The leadership of the Maryland Judiciary coupled with the MSBA and its Real Property Section avoided a $25 million dollar transfer from the fund.
There are many other legislative actions and accomplishments, too numerous to mention in detail here, that deserve your attention. Our legislative recap can be found at the following link, and I urge those members who are interested to examine the report: www.msba.org/sec_comm/committees/lawscomm/2010/LegisRecap2010.pdf.
The purpose of the 2010 Legislative Preview is give you information about issues that are likely to arise during the upcoming session which directly affect you as attorneys in Maryland. We expect thousands of bills to be introduced in the 2011 legislative session, many of which may impact the practice of law. The MSBA Board of Governors has the legislation reviewed by our Committee on Laws and our Director of Legislative Relations, as well has the benefit of input from our Committees and Sections. We will then be able to take positions on issues of particular importance to our profession before the General Assembly.
I trust that this Legislative Preview gives you the ready information you can use to follow our efforts on your behalf during the 2011 General Assembly. We invite you to be involved in the issues that are of particular interest to you. Should you have any questions concerning general legislative issues, or want to seek additional information on the MSBA legislative program, please don’t hesitate to contact your representative on the Board of Governors (www.msba.org) or our Legislative Director, Richard Montgomery. Richard may be reached at (410)269-6464 or through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas D. Murphy