2022 Legislative Updates from Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
The 2022 legislative session was a busy one! MVLS testified on more bills than we ever have before, and several bills passed that will impact our clients. Please see below for bills that passed that may be of note for your MVLS cases:
HB39/SB581 – Requires the court to waive the publication requirement in name change cases upon a motion to do so. This bill will reduce barriers by providing a significant cost savings to MVLS clients in name change cases. The effective date is October 1, 2021.
SB20/HB115 – Makes driving on suspended license a non-incarcerable offense. This is a game-changer for expungement clients who were unable to expunge this charge but are now able to. Previously these charges could also block clients from expunging other charges that would have been expungable. The effective date is October 1, 2021.
SB201 – Automatic Expungement – this bill shields cases with certain dispositions (acquittals, dismissals, not guiltys, and nolle prosequi – except those requiring drug or alcohol treatment) from case search until they can be automatically expunged after 3 years. The effective date is October 1, 2021.
HB1136 (2020) – Although this bill passed last year, it is important to note the changes it will bring about as of May 15, 2021. This bill provides that criminal/traffic charges where the disposition is acquitted, dismissed, nolle prosequi, or not guilty will be automatically suppressed from Maryland Case Search. The Court has clarified that if all charges on a case qualify, the entire case will be suppressed. If a case contains non-qualifying charges, those charges will be displayed. Missing charge numbers are deliberate and reflect the charge removal(s) of some of the charges on a case. This bill also expands expungements to 4th degree burglaries.
HB18/SB154 – Expands the right for tenants in households below 50% of Maryland median income to have an attorney in non-payment of rent eviction cases and increases notice requirements. The effective date is October 1, 2021.
HB852 – Establishes a homeowner’s protection program for individuals facing tax sale. This bill will create the right for homeowners to enter into payment plans to avoid tax sale and will create a fund for a state office that will assist homeowners with accessing payment plans and available tax credits to prevent losing their homes to tax sale. The effective date is July 1, 2022.
SB325 – This bill requires that after a tax sale, the property owner will only be required to pay delinquent bills in order to redeem the property and cannot also be required to pay bills that are not yet delinquent in order to redeem. The effective date is June 1, 2021.
HB610 – This bill will allow a surviving heir to keep the Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit while going through the probate process. Many MVLS clients risk losing their family homes when a family member dies because they lose access to the Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit until they are able to transfer the deed into their name. This bill will provide these clients some relief while they work through the complicated and costly probate process. The effective date is June 1, 2021.
HB565/SB514 – Many MVLS clients are in debt due to hospital bills. This bill prevents hospitals from collecting bills when they haven’t evaluated the person for financial assistance and prohibits wage garnishment and home liens. The effective date is January 1, 2022.
HB510/SB413 – Increases the amount of funding the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) receives from the Abandoned Property Fund. MLSC’s funding was decimated this year by low interest rates and reduced court filings. This funding is of key importance to MVLS and many other legal service providers throughout the state. The effective date is July 1, 2021.
REPOST AND CREDIT TO: Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (https://mvlslaw.org/)