Monday, January 30, 2006

Legal Research Institute 2006

For those of you follow this blog, are in the general Baltimore area, and are interested in becoming a better legal researcher, the Law Library Association of Maryland (LLAM) will be hosting its annual Legal Research Institute on March 22 at the University of Baltimore. Topics include Basic Legal Research, Corporate/Securities Law, Family Law, Immigration Law, Business Law, Criminal Law, Bankruptcy Law, and Health Law. Yours truly will be presenting along with a host of researchers with considerable more experience than myself. To find out more, contact either me or Catherine McGuire at

Business Info From Your Local Library

Searching for information about a particular business? You may want to try the free databases offered by your local library. For example, the Baltimore County Public Library offers a couple of databases which might be helpful. (Go to the "Local Info & Links tab at the top and then click on "Business & Investing"). Business Source Premier offers company profiles, country reports, industry profiles, and market research reports. Reference USA is another database that offers access to information on 13 million US companies and public records information about individuals. To be sure, almost all the business information here is about public companies. Nonetheless, these databases might well be useful and might save you a lot of money. Note: these databases require you to input your library card number. There are also additional library databases which are available only to someone accessing the database from within the library.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Maryland Spam Law Held Constitutional

Today's Sun reports that the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has overturned a 2004 decision by a Montgomery County judge that declared Maryland's anti-spam law unconstitutional. At issue in the case, Marycle LLC v. First Choice Internet Inc., is whether the Maryland Commercial Electronic Mail Act, Commercial Law Article 14-3001, violates the Commerce Clause, Article I, Sect. 8, Clause 3 of the US Constitution. The Montgommery County judge ruled that it did; the decision today rules that it does not.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Biotech Incentive Bills

For those of you interested in the biotech industry, you might have missed an article in today's Daily Record entitled "Lawmakers Pushing Biotech Tax Credit Measures" (subscription). The article discusses two biotech incentive bills which are currently pending in the Maryland General Assembly. SB 218 would increase from $3 million to $6 million the total amount of credits that may be approved by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development for any calendar year for each component of the Maryland research and development tax credit. SB 219 would provide tax incentives of $50,000 for an individual investor and $250,000 for a corporation who invest in a "qualified Maryland biotech company" as defined in the bill.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Baltimore City Council

The Baltimore City Council unveiled a new Legislative Information Center which provides online access to council bill information. Currently, the full text of council bills is available for bills from 1999 through today. (To be sure, I didn't seem to be able to find '06 bills). New information is still being added. There are two search options available: simple and advanced. The simple search allows you to search by keyword and supports boolean searching (eg., AND, OR, etc.) whereas the advanced search allows you to search by File ID, sponsor, or subject term. This resource should definitely make Baltimore City research easier. Also on this page you can find the full text of Council Agendas. Finally, it's worth checking out "How A Bill Becomes A Law." (Thanks to Anita Evans for alerting me to this).

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Effective Dates for Maryland Legislation

(The following is a guest posting from Andy Zimmerman, Director of Library Services at Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander, LLC).

When does new legislation take effect in Maryland? Article III, Section 31 of the Maryland Constitution provides that, "A Law passed by the General Assembly shall take effect the first day of June next after the session at which it may be passed, unless it be otherwise expressly declared therein or provided for in this Constitution." Article XVI, Section 2 says that, “No law enacted by the General Assembly shall take effect until the first day of June next after the session at which it may be passed.”

In practice the legislature uses June 1 as the effective date for bond bills, July 1 as the effective date for budget, tax and revenue bills and October 1 as the date for most other legislation. A key exception is “Emergency” legislation, which is effective on enactment, under Article XVI, Section 2.

There is a special rule for laws passed without the governor's signature. Article II, section 17(d) of the Maryland Constitution says that, "Any Bill enacted over the veto of the Governor, or any Bill which shall become law as the result of the failure of the Governor to act within the time specified, shall take effect 30 days after the Governor's veto is over-ridden, or on the date specified in the Bill, whichever is later." (Again, there is an exception for "Emergency" legislation, which takes effect on the date of the override.) The Maryland General Assembly website posts an updated list of 2006 Veto Overrides.

For more on the effective dates of Maryland legislation see Section X(17) of the Legislative Drafting Manual posted by the Department of Legislative Services.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Retail Properties On The Web

Today's Daily Record (subscription) reports that KLNB Retail, an arm of KLNB LLC, a Towson-based real estate brokerage company, has launched a website for users looking to buy or lease commercial space. You can search by property type (eg., office, shopping center, etc.) and by county. A number of brokerage firms have begun marketing their properties online. What makes this site unique is that it provides extensive demographic and other information about the location of the property. The site also includes a site plan and a brochure for each property.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Eminent Domain Bills

The Baltimore Business Journal recently ran a story about a number of bills introduced into the Maryland legislature which seek to limit the Supreme Court's landmark eminent domain decision in Kelo v. New London. Currently, there are 7 bills in the Maryland General Assembly which seek to limit the scope of Kelo in some way or another. The BBJ article quotes Thomas Saquella, President of the Maryland Retailers Association, as saying that the proposed bills "include everything from bills that call for doing away with this governmental power altogether, to more modest proposals that offer more safeguards for private property owners."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Building Codes

COMAR Section 05.02.07 (referred to as the Maryland Building Performance Standards (MBPS)) adopts the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code as the basis for construction law in Maryland. Maryland does, however, make some modifications to the IBC. These modifications are listed in COMAR Section The IBC is also incorporated into county codes, although each of the counties also make further modifications that relate to the laws of their specific county. These local modifications are collected and presented in a page from the Maryland Codes Administration. The only “county” whose IBC modifications have not been presented here is Baltimore City. The Baltimore City Building Code can be found at this page. The full text of the IBC can be obtained from the International Code Council, or from a number of local libraries, including the Maryland State Law Library.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

MD State Board of Contract Appeals

The Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals has jurisdiction of appeals cases involving disputes between contractors and the State. Regulations governing the Board are found at 21 COMAR 10. The full text of appeals decisions are available in PDF all the way back to 1997. Like the Maryland Judiciary, the Board has also added a Google search to their page.