Friday, February 16, 2007

Baltimore City Bills & Ordinances

Following up on an old post from Jan. 23, 2006, on Baltimore City's Legislative Information Center, there's one more point worth mentioning. The site allows you to search Baltimore City bills and ordinances. In Baltimore City, an item of legislation is referred to as a "bill" from the time it is introduced until its final reading in committee. The moment the bill is signed by the Mayor, it becomes an "ordinance." Bills and ordinances, though, have different numbering systems. What makes things a little tricky is that the option to search by "File ID" (on the advanced search option) automatically searches only for bill numbers. So, if you enter an ordinance number into the "File ID" you won't get the bill you're looking for. Therefore, if you only have the ordinance number, the best option is to search using the "Keyword" search option on the main screen. That should help you find what you're looking for. If you're still confused, call the Baltimore City Dept. of Legislative Reference at 410-396-4730. Their staff is very helpful.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Justia Federal District Court Search

Today's beSpacific reports on a new database from Justia. The database allows you to search for cases filed in federal district courts, with the option to limit by state and by nature of suit. For example, you can search for all franchise cases litigated in Maryland federal district court from Jan. 1, 2006 (the earliest date available in the database) until today. In truth, you can run the identical search in Pacer. And, in fact, Pacer has the benefit that it includes cases prior to Jan. 1, 2006. In addition, Pacer also includes federal appellate courts. On the other hand, one benefit of the Justia site is a more user-friendly interface.

Friday, February 09, 2007

MD Court Rules On Quick Take

In a significant opinion published Thursday, Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City v. George Valsamaki, et al., the Maryland Court of Appeals severly limited Baltimore City's streamlined eminent domain procedure known as "Quick-Take." The Baltimore City Quick-take statute, located at Section 21-16 of the Code of Public Local Laws of Baltimore City, allows the City to take immediate possession of a property deemed to be in the "public interest" without having to wade through a lengthy court process. The Daily Record ran a story on the ruling entitled "Ruling A Blow To City’s ‘Quick Take’ Condemnation Practice" (subscription). The Sun also ran a story entitled "'Quick Take' Takes A Hit."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

MD Bill To Curb Excessive Compensation

Today's Daily Record features an article entitled "Bill Would Tax Md. Firms On ‘Excessive’ Exec Pay" (subscription) on Senate Bill 395. The bill would require a corporation to pay income taxes on compensation that exceeds 30 times the annual salary of the company’s lowest paid worker. The debate over legislative involvement in curbing excessive compensation has swirled at the national level for some time. As far as I know, though, this is the first time such a bill has been introduced in Maryland.