The 2022 Legislative Session of the Maryland General concluded in early April with 2,520 bills introduced and 836 signed into law by Governor Hogan; 11 bills were vetoed, and one was overruled. To follow is a brief synopsis of the new laws that may impact you, your business, or your community.
Time to Care Act of 2022 (SB275)
Under this Act, Maryland joins nine other states to provide family medical leave insurance for private employers. A mandatory payroll deduction for employees and employers with fifteen or more employees will begin on October 1, 2023; self-employed individuals may also contribute. Eligible employees – those who have worked a minimum of 680 hours over the preceding twelve-month period – will receive up to 12 weeks of paid benefits (24 weeks in certain circumstances).
Beginning January 1, 2025, benefits will be paid to an employee for a serious medical condition, care for a family member who has a serious medical condition, the birth or adoption of a child, or military leave. Employees must exhaust employer-provided paid leave prior to receiving these benefits, and these benefits will run concurrently with any approved FMLA leave. Upon approval from the Maryland Department of Labor, employers may qualify for exemption if they provide eligible employees with benefits and/or insurance that meets or exceeds the benefits and protections under the Act.
Harassment Definition (SB450)
Effective October 1, 2022, this bill will expand the definition of harassment and sexual harassment to include
- unwelcome and offensive conduct that need not be severe;
- instances when submission to unwelcome and offensive conduct are made a term or condition of an individual’s employment, whether explicitly or implicitly;
- instances when submission to or rejection of unwelcome and offensive conduct is used for the basis of an employment decision;
- and, based on the totality of the circumstances, conduct that unreasonably creates a working environment that a reasonable person would perceive to be hostile or abusive.
Companies and human resources departments should review their policies and procedures on harassment to ensure that employees and supervisors are properly trained and updated.
Tolling of Statute of Limitations (SB451)
Effective October 1, 2022, the time to file an unlawful employment practice in state Circuit Court will be tolled while administrative charges are pending. In order to file a complaint for an unlawful employment action, the alleged claim must initially be filed with an administrative agency, EEOC, Maryland Commission of Civil Rights, or a local county human rights commission.
Currently, the time to file an unlawful employment action in Maryland Circuit Court is two years from the date of the alleged unlawful employment action and three years for harassment. With this new law, the time to file a complaint in Circuit Court will be extended. Because judicial actions can be delayed for years, maintaining records and creating documents during employment and at the time of any employment action will be even more critical.
Recreational Cannabis (HB1 & HB837)
These laws pertain to recreational cannabis. If passed, a voter referendum scheduled for November would legalize recreational cannabis or marijuana for those who are 21 or older. Cannabis would be added to the definition of “tobacco products,” and smoking would be limited to designated smoking areas outside the office. There is no law that protects medical cannabis users in the workplace and no protection for discrimination under the ADA.
State Holiday (HB227)
Effective June 1, 2022, the State will add Juneteenth National Independence Day (June 19) as a recognized state holiday. This is optional for private employers to include with time-off holidays they currently recognize.
Maryland Personal Information Protection Act (SB643/HB962)
This legislation expands the existing Maryland Personal Information Protection Act (MPIPA) by
- expanding the types of business covered;
- shortening the notice period following a breach;
- modifying notification standards;
- requiring additional information to be provided to the State AG;
- and covering additional types of personal information
Following the expansion, businesses that maintain personal information of any Maryland resident are required to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices that are appropriate to the nature of the personal information maintained, the nature and size of the business, and the business’ operations.
Maryland New Start Act of 2022 (HB158)
In an effort to support formerly imprisoned individuals, the Maryland New Start Act of 2022 established a grant program and microloan fund administrated by the Maryland Department of Labor and Department of Commerce, respectively. At least $200,000 will be appropriated to the grant program, which will provide funding for certain eligible organizations. This will create or support existing entrepreneurship development programs. The microloan fund, to which at least $300,000 will be appropriated, will provide loans directly to the formerly imprisoned individuals.
Authorization for a Minor to Marry (HB83)
Effective October 1, 2022, this bill prohibits individuals younger than age 17 from marrying, and it requires that those who are 17 years of age must meet enhanced procedural requirements before they may marry.
Specifically, individuals age 17 are prohibited from marrying unless they have the consent of each living parent, guardian, or legal custodian; or in the absence of consent, either party to be married may produce certification from a medical professional verifying that the medical professional has examined the woman to be married and has found that she is pregnant or has given birth to a child.
An individual age 17 must also present to the clerk of the circuit court a certified copy of an order granting authorization to marry no earlier than 15 days after the order was issued.
This requires the filing of a petition for authorization, filed in the name of the minor, setting forth
- identifying information regarding the petitioner and their intended spouse;
- a statement of explanation regarding how the parties met and how long they have known each other;
- a copy of any criminal records and peace or protective orders concerning either party;
- evidence that the minor is mature and capable of self-sufficiency and self-support;
- and contact information for each living parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the petitioner.
Such a filing results in the appointment of an attorney with family law experience to represent the petitioner; provision to the minor of specified information including State and national hotlines for child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking; and the setting of an evidentiary hearing, at which the court will consider whether there is sufficient evidence to override the rebuttable presumption that marriage is not in the best interest of the minor.
Notably, the court must deny a petition if the court determines that the intended spouse of the minor
- has ever been in a position of authority or special trust with, or had a professional relationship with, the petitioner;
- has been convicted or adjudicated delinquent for specific crimes;
- or has committed a sexual crime against the petitioner or had a protective or peace order issued against them (even if the petitioner was not the person to be protected).
Marriage Records (HB369)
This bill establishes requirements and procedures for issuing a new marriage record when the name of one party to the marriage has been changed. Among other requirements, the bill provides that, effective October 1, 2022, a new marriage record must designate the parties using gender-neutral language and may not be marked as “amended” or otherwise reflect the changes made.
Child Custody and Visitation (SB17)
Effective July 1, 2022, this bill derives from the Workgroup to Study Child Custody Court Proceedings Involving Child Abuse or Domestic Violence Allegations. The workgroup recommended, among other things, an expansion of training requirements for judges who preside over child custody cases involving allegations of child abuse or domestic violence.
The bill requires that the Judiciary, in consultation with domestic violence and abuse organizations, develop and, as necessary, update a training program for judges and magistrates presiding over such cases.
The training must include a variety of specific topics which include
- the dynamics and effects of child sexual abuse, physical and emotional child abuse, and domestic violence;
- the impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and the importance of considering this impact when making child custody and visitation decisions;
- and the potential impacts of explicit and implicit bias on child custody decisions.
To ensure that only judges who have received the specified training are assigned such cases, the Judiciary is required to adopt procedures to quickly identify custody cases involving child abuse or domestic violence.
Beginning July 1, 2024, within a judge’s first year of presiding over child custody cases involving child abuse or domestic violence, the judge must receive at least 20 hours of initial training approved by the Judiciary in conformity with the training program established by the bill.
Tenant Protection Act (SB6)
This Act, effective June 1, 2022, makes various changes to the rights and protection of tenants, including victims of domestic violence. Specifically, the Act expands a number of statutory provisions under current law applicable to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and it establishes new provisions for victims of “abuse” as defined under the domestic violence statute.
Additionally, the Act establishes that when a tenant vacates a leased premises as a result of being a victim of abuse, the tenant is only responsible for rent from the tenant’s notice of an intent to vacate until the tenant vacates – up to a maximum of 30 days – and further provides that a report by a “qualified third party” is sufficient documentation that the tenant or legal occupant is entitled to the specified relief.
Finally, a landlord is prohibited from disclosing to a third party any information provided by a tenant who is a victim of abuse without the written consent of the tenant, requirement by law, or court order.
Domestic Violence (SB280/HB296)
Historically, an individual who is otherwise eligible to file a petition for protection from domestic violence was required to do so either at the court (circuit or district) during regular court hours or, if the courts are not open, by filing a petition for an interim protective order with a district court commissioner.
These bills authorize a petitioner filing a petition for protection from domestic violence to file electronically for a temporary protective order from certain locations: a domestic violence and sexual assault prevention or assistance program and a hospital where the petitioner is receiving medical treatment while the petitioner is at the hospital.
If the petition is filed during regular court hours, a court receiving such an electronic petition must hold a hearing on the petition via video conference on the same business day; if the petition is not filed during regular court hours, the hearing must be held on the next business day.
Guardianship of Minors (HB808/SB508)
There are circumstances under which an individual may be appointed as a guardian of the person and/or as a guardian of the property of a minor. The orphans’ courts and the circuit courts have specified concurrent jurisdiction over guardians of the person of a minor and proceedings to appoint a guardian of the person of a minor. Effective October 1, 2022, these bills change the circumstances under which a court may appoint a guardian of the person for an unmarried minor.
Specifically, the Court must find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the appointment is in the best interests of the minor, that no testamentary appointment has been made, and that
- no parent is willing or able to serve as the guardian of the person of the minor;
- each parent consents to the appointment of the guardian of the person;
- or no parent objects to the appointment of the guardian of the person.
Notably, these bills clarify that the appointment of a guardian of the person of a minor may not be construed to require the termination of any parental rights with respect to the minor as otherwise provided in the Family Law Article.
Spousal Privilege (HB210)
Generally, the spouse of a person on trial for a crime may not be compelled to testify against the other spouse unless the charge involves alleged abuse of a child younger than 18 or if the charge is assault in any degree and the spouse is the alleged victim.
Beginning October 1, 2022, the spouse of a person who is on trial for a crime may be compelled to testify against the other spouse if the spouse on trial and the spouse married after the date on which the alleged crime occurred.
Current Maryland law prohibits a person from engaging in stalking, which is defined as a malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another where the person intends to place – or knows or reasonably should have known the conduct would place – another in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death, assault in any degree, rape, or sexual offense (or attempted rape or sexual offense), false imprisonment, or that a third person likely will suffer any of these acts; or the person intends to cause – or knows or reasonably should have known – that the conduct would cause serious emotional distress to the other.
Beginning October 1, 2022, this definition is revised to include conduct currently defined as stalking that occurs “in person, by electronic communication, or through the use of a device that can pinpoint or track the location of another without the person’s knowledge or consent.”
Notably, excepted from stalking is conduct that is
- performed to ensure compliance with a court order;
- performed to carry out a specific lawful commercial purpose;
- or authorized, required, or protected by local, State, or federal law.
What remains to be seen is the impact this may have on private investigation services and/or the placement of GPS tracking devices.
The 2022 legislative session was busy for estate and trust-related bills. Two of the biggest bills of the year, which allow for electronic execution of Wills and Trusts and the remote notarization of Wills and Trusts, are now in effect. Virtual Will signings are a permanent option in Maryland for our estate planning clients. (Senate Bills 0036/Chapter 177 and 0317/Chapter 0715)
Administration of Estates – Fees (HB0187)
Also of importance to estate administration clients, the fees that the Register of Wills charges for probate administration will change on October 1, 2022.
The probate fees for small probate estates – under $50,000 of probate assets or under $100,000 of probate assets if the only heir is a surviving spouse – will be eliminated. The fees on larger probate estates (over $500,000 of probate assets) will increase. Various other fees will also change.
Circuit Court for Howard County – Judges Sitting as Orphans’ Court (HB0868)
Last, there will be a constitutional referendum on voters’ ballots in November to amend Article VI – Judiciary Department of the Maryland Constitution so that the judges of the Circuit Court in Howard County would sit as the Orphans’ Court.
If the constitutional referendum passes, it will eliminate the separate positions of Orphans’ Court judges in Howard County. Montgomery County and Harford County already have Circuit Court judges that sit as the Orphans’ Court in a rotation.
Other bills of note include the following:
- Clarification that Orphans’ Court approval is not necessary to pay Personal Representative’s commissions or attorney’s fees in certain situations (Senate Bill 0468/Chapter 0630)
- Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and Partnerships can be transferred at death through a provision in the operating agreement or partnership agreement, and are non-testamentary transfers (Senate Bill 0261/Chapter 0295)
- Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act will require the court to determine market value of a property during a partition action (Senate Bill 0092/Chapter 0402)
- Supported decision making allows an adult with disabilities to name individuals to assist them with making every day choices related to their life (Senate Bill 0559/Chapter 0631)
Notarial Acts – Fees and Use of Technology (Remote Notarizations) (HB663)
Beginning June 1, 2022, these bills streamline a key aspect of all real estate transactions: the notarization of deal documents.
Specifically, each bill
- repeals the exception to remote notarization provisions that applies to wills and trust instruments;
- establishes requirements and procedures by which a notary public located in the state may use communication technology to take an acknowledgment of a signature on a tangible record that is physically present before the notary if the record is displayed to and identified by the remotely located individual during the audio-visual recording;
- specifies procedures by which a notary public located in the State may use communication technology to administer an oath or affirmation to a remotely located individual;
- authorizes the Secretary of State to adopt regulations prescribing the methods for reasonable confirmation of a tangible record;
- increases the maximum fees for an original notarial act and performance of a remote notarial act;
- and specifies that the notarization of any document under the requirements of specified executive orders authorizing remote notarizations must be deemed valid if the notarization occurred during the time that the orders were in effect.
Maryland Department of Transportation (HB163)
These emergency bills, effective upon enactment, specify that when State Highway Administration (SHA), the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), or an agent, employee, or consultant of SHA or MTA gives or posts the notice of entry onto private property to conduct environmental and engineering studies, SHA or MTA must send a copy of the notice to the General Assembly members who represent the legislative district in which the property is located.
Under the state’s eminent domain statute, SHA, MTA, and the agents, employees, and consultants of SHA and MTA may enter private property to conduct environmental and engineering studies necessary to determine the suitability of the property for use by the administration entering the property. Entry onto private property for such purposes may not be undertaken without the property owner’s prior consent. If, after a real and bona fide effort, the consent of the property owner cannot be secured, the administration seeking entry may apply to a law or equity court for an order directing that entry be permitted. The bona fide effort, however, must include either 30 days advance written notice or posting notice on the property at least 30 days in advance. Under each bill, a copy of such notice must be provided to the members of the General Assembly who represent the legislative district in which the property is located.
Irredeemable Ground Rents (HB91)
Beginning October 1st, House Bill 91 imposes additional filing requirements on ground rent holders. Specifically, it expands the legal requirements to preserve the irredeemability of ground rents by requiring the holder of an irredeemable ground rent to file a renewal notice of intention to preserve irredeemability with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) by April 1, 2023. Subsequent renewal notices must be filed within three months of the date that a renewal notice is recorded in the land records.
House Bill 91 also requires the online registry for ground rents, currently maintained by SDAT, to identify each property for which a renewal notice to preserve the irredeemability of an irredeemable ground lease has been filed and to include a clear notation of the expiration date for each renewal notice.
Generally, a ground lease creates a leasehold estate in the grantee that is personal – not real – property. The grantor retains a reversion in the ground lease property and fee simple title to the land. Ground rent is paid to the grantor (the ground lease holder) in annual or semiannual installments, allowing for use of the property during the term of the lease. Under a typical ground lease contract, the tenant agrees to pay all fees, taxes, and other costs associated with ownership of the property. An irredeemable ground rent is a ground rent created under a ground lease executed before April 9, 1884, that does not contain a provision allowing the leasehold tenant to redeem the ground rent.
The Real Property Article of the Maryland Annotated Code authorizes any ground lease holder of an irredeemable ground rent to record a notice of intention to preserve irredeemability in the land records. However, to preserve a ground rent’s irredeemability, a notice of the intention must have been recorded by December 31, 2010. If the notice was not recorded by that date, the ground rent became redeemable by the leasehold tenant. If a notice was recorded by December 31, 2010, the ground rent remained irredeemable for 10 years, through December 31, 2020. Unless a renewal notice was recorded within six months before the notice expired, the effectiveness of that notice lapsed on January 1, 2021. Subsequent renewal notices lapse after 10 years, unless another renewal notice is recorded within six months before expiration. If a notice lapses, the ground rent becomes redeemable by the leasehold tenant.
Landlord and Tenant- Repossession for Failure to Pay Rent –
Registration of Affected Property (HB174)
Effective October 1, 2023, House Bill 174 establishes that in an action to repossess a property for failure to pay rent, specified information related to the status of the rental property as an affected property (under lead-based paint abatement laws) may be an issue of fact at trial.
An “affected property” is one that is at risk for lead paint contamination, as specified and defined in the Environment Article of the Maryland Annotated Code. If the property to be repossessed is an affected property, the complaint (in a failure to pay rent action) is required to affirm that the landlord has registered the affected property as required under the Environment Article and the registration is valid.
The complaint must also indicate the inspection certificate number for the current tenancy or declare that the owner is unable to provide an inspection certificate number because
- the owner has requested that the tenant allow the owner access to the property to perform the work required under the Environment Article;
- the owner has offered to relocate the tenant while the work is completed – if the work will disturb the paint on the interior surfaces of the property – and to pay the reasonable expenses the tenant incurs directly related to the relocation;
- and the tenant has refused to allow access to the owner or refused to vacate the property in order for the owner to perform the required work.
Title Insurance Producers (HB637)
Effective October 1, 2022, these bills make permanent the authority of a title insurer to conduct its annual producer reviews remotely, authorizing the reviews to take place
- at the place of business of the title insurance producer;
- remotely using mail, overnight delivery, or electronic means;
- or through a combination of both on-site and remote methods.
Starting October 1st, 2022 this bills repeals the requirement that reviews address policy blank inventory and processing operations, and instead require reviews to address policy-issuing and processing operations.
Insurers and insurance producers in the State are subject to the requirements of the Insurance Article and regulated directly by the Insurance Commissioner and the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA). Each title insurer must conduct an annual on-site review of the underwriting, claims, and escrow practices of each title insurance producer appointed by the insurer and evaluate certain information for the review. A title insurer must prepare a written report on the results of the review, which is subject to examination by MIA. If an individual leaves the employment of or ends an association with the title insurance producer, each title insurance producer must notify the Commissioner (and any insurer with whom the producer holds an appointment). A title insurance producer must provide notice within five working days, sent in writing by certified mail or electronic means.
Landlord and Tenant – Residential Leases – Tenant Rights and Protections (Tenant Protection Act of 2022) (HB 86)
These bills make multiple changes to tenant rights and protections under State law. They require that a landlord using a “ratio utility billing system” must provide specified information to a tenant in writing; they establish that a lease provision requiring a tenant to pay utility charges under a ratio utility billing system is unenforceable if the information is not provided to the tenant. “Ratio utility billing system” is defined as an allocation of one or more of a landlord’s utility charges, collected via a master meter, among the tenants by any method that does not measure actual per tenant usage for the utility.
A landlord that uses a ratio utility billing system to bill tenants for one or more utilities must provide the following information to all prospective tenants in writing:
- a statement that the tenant will be billed by the landlord for allocated utility services and that identifies all utilities at issue;
- a copy of the last two utility bills issued to the landlord;
- a description of the method that will be used to allocate the cost of the utility to the tenant, by utility;
- a statement that any disputes relating to the computation of the tenant’s bill are between the tenant and the landlord;
- the average monthly bill for all dwelling units in the residential rental property in the previous calendar year, by utility;
- a statement that the tenant has the right to inspect records retained by the landlord that document a bill for utilities on written request;
- information regarding any additional service charges or administrative fees to be paid by the tenant for the operation of the ratio utility billing system; and
- a citation to the applicable statute.
These bills also alter the existing requirement that a landlord provide a statement of costs if the landlord withholds the return of a security deposit by requiring a landlord to provide the tenant with an itemized statement of costs incurred, along with supporting documentation, which may include estimates of costs incurred, subject to specified additional requirements.
During the 2022 session, the Maryland General Assembly passed the following bills impacting Maryland cooperatives, condominiums, and homeowner associations. These new laws will become effective on October 1, 2022
Condominiums-Disclosures to Unit Owners and Prohibited Provisions in Instruments (HB40)
This bill requires the contract for the initial sale of a unit to disclose whether the council of unit owners has entered into an agreement that settles or releases the council’s common element warranty claim. It requires a board to disclose to the council of unit owners at least 21 days prior to the execution of any agreement negotiated by the board to settle a disputed common element warranty claim.
Under this bill, a resale certificate must contain a statement as to whether the council of unit owners has entered into any agreement that settles or releases the council’s common element warranty claim, and it must state whether the board has provided the required 21 days’ notice prior to executing an agreement to settle a disputed common element warranty claim.
Cooperative Housing Corporations, Condominiums and Homeowners Associations-Reserve Studies-Statewide (HB107)
Over the past two years, both Prince George’s County and Montgomery County have enacted legislation requiring cooperatives, condominiums, and homeowner associations in those jurisdictions to perform reserve studies and to fund reserves. This year, in response to the Surfside Condominium disaster in Florida, the Maryland General Assembly adopted a statewide reserve mandate, requiring cooperatives, condominiums, and homeowner associations established on or before October 1, 2022 (or October 1, 2021 in Montgomery County or October 1, 2020 in Prince George’s County) to have an independent reserve study completed at least 30 days prior to the transition to owner control.
Cooperatives, condominiums, and homeowners associations established prior to the aforementioned dates, who have not obtained a replacement reserve study or updated a study since October 1, 2016, must do so by October 1, 2023 (or by October 1, 2022 in Montgomery County or have done by October 1, 2021 in Prince George’s County). The bill specifies that reserve studies only apply to homeowner associations for which the initial purchase and installation costs for all components identified under existing statutory provisions total at least $10,000.00.
The bill also addresses the funding of reserves by requiring all associations to have allocated sufficient funds to meet 100% of the recommended funding level in the reserve study no later than the third annual budget cycle following receipt of the reserve study. Reserve studies must be updated at least every five years, and any increased funding recommendations made in an updated study must be fully funded in the first budget cycle following receipt of the update study.
The law also requires that the preparer of a reserve study must have participated in the preparation of at least 30 such studies in the preceding three-year period while employed by a firm that prepares such studies. The preparer must hold an architect’s or engineer’s license or have been certified by either the Community Association’s Institute or the Association of Professional Reserve Analysts. Owners may report noncompliance of the reserve study State requirements to the Consumer Protection Division within the Office of the Attorney General.
Vehicle Laws-Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles-Reserved Parking Spaces (HB147/SB146)
This bill prohibits the stopping, standing, or parking of a vehicle in a designated plug-in electric drive vehicle charging space except for plug-in electric drive vehicles while they are plugged into charging equipment.
Small Claims-Examination in Aid of Enforcement and Interrogatories in Aid of Execution-Prohibition (HB 349/SB452)
In District Court small claims actions, which are actions where the amount in controversy is $5,000 or less, judgment creditors no longer can avail themselves of the District Court’s assistance in enforcing judgments. The court may no longer require an individual to appear for an examination in aid of enforcement of a money judgment or order an individual to answer interrogatories in aid of execution of a money judgment.
Real Property-Condominium and Homeowners Associations-Dispute Settlement (HB615)
Providing an owner with due process prior to the imposition of any sanctions, including the levying of a monetary fine, has been a requirement imposed on condominiums by the Maryland Condominium Act for many years. However, for homeowner associations, the law did not contain any such due process requirements. Thus, this bill modifies the due process procedures contained in the Condominium Act and also includes these same due process procedures in the Homeowners Association Act.
The bill prohibits a board of directors of a homeowners association and a condominium from imposing a fine, suspending voting rights, or infringing on any other right of an owner or other occupant for violations of the rules until the alleged violator is given notice advising of the alleged violation and the action required to abate the violation. The board must provide a period of at least 15 days during which the violation may be abated without further sanction or, in connection with non-continuing violations, a statement that any further violations may result in a sanction after notice and an opportunity to request a hearing.
Within 12 months, if the violation continues or if the same rule is violated, a board of the condominium or the homeowners association must provide an alleged violator notice of the alleged violation and the procedures for requesting a hearing before the board in executive session. If a hearing is requested, a board must provide the alleged violator with at least 10 days’ notice of the hearing. After the hearing, the board may impose a sanction. If an alleged violator does not request a hearing, the board must deliberate at its next meeting as to whether the violation occurred as alleged and decide whether to impose any sanctions.
Revival of Nonstock and Religious Corporations (HB853)
This bill pertains to nonstock corporations and religious corporations that are not in good standing due to their failure to file annual reports. To reinstate the corporate charter, they will only be required to file the seven most recently due annual reports along with the Articles of Revival.
If you have any questions about the specific requirements of any of these new laws, or any other legal or regulatory changes that may take effect later this year, please contact an attorney at our firm so we can assist you.