May 23, 2019

2019 Senate Session Highlights – Senator Bobby Zirkin

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended at midnight on April 9th, capping an eventful legislative session for Senator Bobby Zirkin (District 11 – Baltimore County). The 2019 session would prove quite eventful for the Chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Zirkin would be directly involved with some sixty-seven pieces of legislation and serve as the lead sponsor of twenty-five important bills (you can find a link to each of these bills by clicking here). Of the twenty-five bills that he carried as the lead sponsor, three passed both Chambers of the General Assembly and are now poised to become Maryland law.

Senate Bill 101 – Civil Actions – Pre-litigation Discovery of Insurance Coverage

This bill extends, from claims involving only vehicle accidents to claims involving any tort involving bodily injury or death, the application of statutory provisions authorizing the pre-litigation discovery of specified insurance coverage information. Under the bill, this pre-litigation discovery applies to the applicable limits of coverage in any automobile, homeowner’s, or renter’s insurance policy. The bill expands the documentation a claimant must submit in order to receive this information by requiring a claimant to submit a letter from an attorney admitted to practice law in the State certifying that (1) the attorney has made reasonable efforts to investigate the underlying facts of the claim and (2) based on the attorney’s investigation, the attorney reasonably believes that the claim is not frivolous. The bill makes corresponding changes to other statutory provisions.

Senate Bill 103 – Criminal Law – Electronic Harassment and Bullying (Grace’s Law 2.0)

This bill makes several changes to the prohibition on misuse of an electronic communication or interactive computer service under § 3-805 of the Criminal Law Article. A person may not violate the prohibitions under § 3-805, as amended by the bill, with the intent to induce a minor to commit suicide. A person who violates § 3-805 with the intent to induce a minor to commit suicide is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a $10,000 maximum fine. All other violations of § 3-805 are misdemeanors, punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and/or a $10,000 maximum fine. The bill includes a severability clause establishing that if any of the bill’s provisions are held invalid by a court, the invalidity of those provisions does not affect the validity of the other provisions and application of those provisions.

Senate Bill 856 – Juvenile Justice Reform Council

This bill establishes the Juvenile Justice Reform Council in the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP). Among other duties, the council must use a data-driven approach to develop a statewide framework of policies to invest in strategies to increase public safety and reduce recidivism of youth offenders. By December 1, 2020, the council must report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly. The bill takes effect June 1, 2019, and terminates June 30, 2021.

Now after a successful 2019 legislative session, Senator Zirkin looks ahead to the 2020 session when he’ll bring with him the experience of another productive and effective year in the Maryland Senate.