The second special session of the Maryland legislature begins on August 9. As we hoped, the legislature will attempt to resolve the many problems caused by the recent Tracey v. Solesky court decision, which imposed strict liability on “pit bull” owners and their landlords but did not do the same for owners of any dog that does not look like a “pit bull.” (The court decision is not in effect yet.)
Unfortunately, we have not been able to get the draft bill, so we can’t talk specifics. According to the bill authors, the proposed bill would impose strict liability on all dog owners, regardless of their dog’s breed, and would reverse the liability that was imposed on landlords. We do not know whether the new draft bill includes a clause to prohibit municipalities from passing BSL, as one of the draft bills from the first special session did.
Special sessions are extremely short, and already concerns have been raised that there’s not enough concensus among legislators to get the bill pushed through so quickly:
Although Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he’s “optimistic” that a bill could pass during the special session that starts Thursday, he cautioned that the issue is complex and could be derailed if opposition arises.
Frosh said that he does not believe there would be time in a special session to consider multiple bills and amendments. “If there is not a broad consensus, this is not going to happen,” he said.
Maryland residents can contact their Senators and Delegates and urge them to take action to reverse the Solesky decision. Supporters can also attend the following committee hearings to show their support in person.
Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee
When: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Where: 2 East, Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD
Subject: Hearing on 3lr3512 – Civil Actions – Liability for Personal Injury or Death Caused by Dog (Senators Frosh, Raskin, and Gladden)
NOTE: Anyone wishing to testify on this bill must sign the witness register before 12:45 P.M. If you have written testimony, please submit 20 copies to the staff for distribution by 12:00 P.M.
House Judiciary Committee
When: Friday, August 10, 2012 at 1:30 P.M.
Where: Room 100, House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD
Subject: Bill Hearing on Pit Bull Legislation
The following rally is also planned for August 9 in Annapolis. Please visit the link for all the details. https://www.facebook.com/events/441943509183265/
Good luck in Maryland!