Tag Archives: maryland hb422

Maryland HB 422 hearing overview

The House Judiciary Committee met to hear HB 422, a bill that would prevent breed discriminatory laws on the state level.

According to the bills sponsor, the bill was submitted due to the Solesky decision.   The bill, which if it remains as is, would outlaw breed discriminatory laws on the state level, repeal existing ordinances and prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenets with certain breeds of dogs.

The bills sponsor pointed out the some of the numerous issues caused by BDL and the precedent of the 17 states that currently outlaw BDL and the additional states that are considering anti-BDL bills this year.

Right away one member of the committee raise the issue of Prince George’s County and what would happen to their ban.  The sponsor stated that it was her intention that existing ordinances would be grandfathered in, but the language of the bill does not allow for that.  The bills sponsor said that she would amend to clarify that issue.

It is important to note that the Chief of Prince George’s County Animal Management Division was present and testified in support of the bill.  He was asked to testify for the bill by the head on the Animal Management Services Division.  During what was a compelling testimony, he stated that 793 dogs were confiscated under the ban in the 2013 fiscal year.   Roughly 75% of confiscated dogs were euthanized.  $250,000 have been spent in Prince George’s County on enforcement of the ban in 2 years.  He also testified that the number one biter was either labs or cocker spaniels.  He stated that the ban has done nothing for Prince George’s County but separate well-behaved dogs from good families and that the focus needs to be on effective solutions.  He testified that the ban has not worked for Prince George’s County.

The portion of the bill which was most hotly contested was the portion relating to landlords.  Many people testified in support of the bill, with the exception of that particular portion.  Considering that the legislature has failed to address the effects of the court ruling, that particular portion of the bill would put landlords in an impossible position.  Again, amendments were suggested to remove the language pertaining to landlord discrimination.

Many people testified in support of the bill, but very oppose it.  Not surprisingly, Tony Solesky, whose son was the center point in the appeals court ruling, testified against.  There was a pattern during that day’s hearing.  There were many bills regarding dangerous dogs that were heard.  Tony Solesky testified against every single one regarding dangerous dogs, and spent the entire time focusing on breed instead of lobbying for effective solutions that have a chance of effecting change, and passing through the process.

For example, HB 371 was heard.  This bill is to strengthen the dangerous dog laws in breed neutral way.  Increasing penalties, and strengthening the requirements for those who have dangerous dogs.  Solesky testified against strengthening the dangerous dog laws because it was breed neutral and behavior based and tried to lobby for the bill to be breed based, saying that Maryland should be able to “…simply eliminate certain breeds of dogs the same way we eliminate, why wild animals aren’t allowed among us.”

This stark opposition to any form of solidifying the dangerous dog laws in a breed neutral way is confounding.  Victims are no more or less of a victim if they are attacked by one type of dog or another.  We point to this specifically in order to show that the issue is not really about public safety for the pro-BDL lobby.

Maryland legislators have heard a lot of information about the failures of breed discriminatory laws over the last few years.  Many of them come into the hearing for HB 422 extremely well versed in the failures and short comings of such legislation.

As things stand now, the committee has not acted.  Because the sponsor has said that she is drafting amendments to the bill, it is possible that the committee will not act on the bill until that is done.

Residents of Maryland please reach out and write a brief letter of support for this bill to the committee.

Joseph.vallario@house.state.md.us
Kathleen.dumais@house.state.md.us
Curt.anderson@house.state.md.us
Sam.arora@house.state.md.us
Jill.carter@house.state.md.us
Luke.clippinger@house.state.md.us
John.cluster@house.state.md.us
Frank.conaway@house.state.md.us
Glen.glass@house.state.md.us
Michael.hough@house.state.md.us
Kevin.kelly@house.state.md.us
Susan.lee@house.state.md.us
Susan.mccomas@house.state.md.us
Mike.mcdermott@house.state.md.us
Keiffer.mitchell@house.state.md.us
Neil.parrott@house.state.md.us
Samuel.rosenberg@house.state.md.us
Luiz.simmons@house.state.md.us
Michael.smigiel@house.state.md.us
Kris.valderrama@house.state.md.us
Geraldine.valentino.smith@house.state.md.us
Jeff.waldstreicher@house.state.md.us

Maryland HB 422 would prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level

A bill that has been introduced in Maryland that would prohibit breed discriminatory laws on the state level is being heard by the House Judiciary Committee today.

The catalyst for this bill is likely the situation with the Maryland court of appeals ruling that found “pure breed pit bulls” to be inherently dangerous, and that landlords were to be held strictly liable if a tenants “pit bull” caused injury to some one.

HB 422 , a bill which currently has 10 sponsors, would do several things.  The first is that it would prevent municipalities from enacting dangerous dog laws on the local level that single out any one breed or type of dog.  This bill would also prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to a person based on the heritage of their dog, as well as protecting renters from eviction because of their dog.

This is the first state-wide bill to specifically address landlord discrimination in rental practices based on the appearance of the dog.  It is not surprising that this would come out of Maryland at this time, considering the issues that have arisen out of the Tracey v Solesky ruling.

The pertinent text of the bill is listed below.   

” (B) A MUNICIPALITY MAY NOT:
(1) ADOPT AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING A PERSON FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DETERMINE A DOG TO BE A NUISANCE, POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS, OR INHERENTLY DANGEROUS, OR OTHERWISE REGULATE A DOG BASED ON THE BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE OF THE DOG.

12 13–102.1. (A) THIS SECTION MAY NOT BE CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT A COUNTY FROM RESTRICTING THE OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING OF A DANGEROUS DOG, AS DEFINED IN § 10–619(A) OF THE CRIMINAL LAW ARTICLE, OR A DOG THAT HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS IN ACCORDANCE WITH § 10–619(C) OF THE CRIMINAL LAW ARTICLE.
(B) A COUNTY MAY NOT:
(1) ENACT A LOCAL LAW PROHIBITING A PERSON FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DETERMINE A DOG TO BE A NUISANCE, POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS, OR INHERENTLY DANGEROUS, OR OTHERWISE REGULATE A DOG BASED ON THE BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE OF THE DOG…

(C) REGARDLESS OF THE TERMS OF ANY CONTRACT, DEED, COVENANT, RESTRICTION, INSTRUMENT, DECLARATION, RULE, BYLAW, LEASE AGREEMENT, RENTAL AGREEMENT, OR ANY OTHER DOCUMENT, A HOMEOWNER OR TENANT MAY NOT BE:
(1) PROHIBITED FROM OWNING, KEEPING, OR HARBORING A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE; OR
(2) DENIED OCCUPANCY IN OR EVICTED FROM RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY SOLELY BECAUSE THE PERSON OWNS, KEEPS, OR HARBORS A DOG OF A SPECIFIC BREED, TYPE, OR HERITAGE.”

This bill also specifically addresses current breed discriminatory ordinances, and would nullify them. This means that any and all existing breed discriminatory laws would be repealed by this bill.

Nothing in the bill prohibits any municipality, or landlord from rejecting dogs that have proven, based on their behavior, to be dangerous.

One of the largest issues effecting shelter populations of typically targeted dogs is a lack of pet friendly rentals.  This bill is an opportunity to address this problem and will set the precedent for other states to do the same, as well as repealing the long-standing breed discriminatory ordinances in Maryland.  The bill is set for its first hearing today.  Local groups have been working hard on support for this bill.

When the hearing is completed, we will know more specifically what is needed from Maryland residents in order to help support passage of this bill.