Recap and What's Up Next
July 8, 2012
Included is a brief update since the June 26 Work Session along with discussion about what lies ahead.
Task Force Update
Assuming that a Special Session is not called before the end of the year, Task Force members will continue developing a strict liability law in response to the Tracey Court’s ruling through December. New Work Sessions about the strict liability law are expected to begin after the summer months with a recommendation ready by the next Regular Session that starts in January 2013.
Moving to a strict liability state is a big step forward for Maryland, which is currently a One Bite state. The Task Force’s strict liability recommendation, however, will void the Court’s greatest victory for victims: Holding landlords responsible after a tenant’s pit bull attacks. Additionally, under the Task Force’s current plan, strict liability will only apply if the dog owner is “negligent.”
The June 26 Work Session, along with several news articles published since, fortell that a range of legislation is expected to be introduced during the next Regular Session that is unlikely to benefit victims of dog attacks, including: locking in "contributory negligence" as a defense for dog owners, a statewide anti-BSL measure and other revisions to the state’s existing Dangerous Dog law.
Listen to the June 26 Work Session
Click here to listen to the June 26 Work Session (then click the bottom right Play button). RealPlayer must be installed to listen.
Actions Needed in the Coming Months
Though the Task Force will be reining in the Court’s ruling under their current strict liability recommendation and voiding landlord liability in cases when a tenant's pit bull or pit bull-cross attacks, not all hope is lost. For instance the following is true:
- The Tracey Court’s ruling currently stands, and will stand until a legislative vote overturns it, which likely will not occur until the first quarter of 2013 and may not occur then (if it gets stalled in committee or cannot gather enough votes).
- Essentially, Supporters of the Court have between now and January 2013, to send letters in support of the Court's decision to the below key legislators who hold critical leadership and committee roles within the General Assembly.
Key Legislators to Contact
At this stage and moving forward, it is more important to correspond with the below legislators, two of which are also Task Force members, regarding this issue. Maryland constituents should also be in contact with their Senate and Delegate representatives.
Key Senate Members
Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.
President of Senate
Calvert and Prince George’s Counties
Sen. Brian Frosh (Task Force member)
Chair: Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee
Lisa Gladden (Task Force member)
Vice-chair Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee
Key House Members
Michael Erin Busch
Speaker of House of Delegates
Anne Arundel County
Joseph Vallario, Jr
Chair: House Judiciary Committee
Prince George’s County
Vice-chair: House Judiciary Committee