Attorney’s Fee Bill Sent Back to Committee

Following nearly two weeks of floor debate, involving multiple delays and subsequent amendments, SB 705 was re-referred back to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Local governments had opposed the bill, citing its potential to trigger a wave of costly lawsuits against governments, far beyond the proponents’ stated goals of affording access to justice for non-monetary claims.

MACo had testified against the bill in Committee, but was surprised when the bill passed in a voting session – following four straight years of defeat before the same committee. Citing deep concerns over the unintended consequences from the bill’s broad language, local governments aggressively reached out to Senators across the State, seeking assistance in fending off the costly legislation.

MACo and MML’s final “floor paper” distributed on Tuesday, March 28, urged Senators to recommit the bill to Committee, with a final urging: “Bring it back when it’s truly a compromise!”

The Committee may convene a working group before the end of session to seek a compromise. MACo, MML, and local government attorneys have expressed willingness to engage in a productive resolution – with an opportunity to withdraw opposition to a more focused proposal without the same wide unintended consequences.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties