New law protects retired K-9s

By Frank Johnson
Deputy City Attorney, City of Gaithersburg

The General Assembly this year focused on many bills addressing all elements of police reform. But SB 156 involves veterinary care costs for retired K9s.

The bill, which the Governor signed, mandates that, as of July 1, 2021, state and local police forces cover the “reasonable and necessary” vet costs proven by a receipt, up to $2,500 a year and $10,000 “over the life of the dog.” The bill also creates a state K-9 Compassionate Care Fund, which can include donations to cover such expenses, and allows local governments to create their own funds.

Section Council names new officers, members

By Frank Johnson
Deputy City Attorney, City of Gaithersburg

We will this year have new leadership for the State and Local Government Section Council, including new officers and Section Council members. It’s been my pleasure to serve as Chair for the last few years, and I’m very happy to welcome Amanda Stakem Conn, WSSC Counsel, as Chair for 2021.

I also welcome Kimberly Hale Carney, Assistant Attorney General (Department of Labor) as Vice-Chair. Patrick Hughes, with the Office of the Attorney General, will continue serving as Secretary, and Robert McFarland, Assistant Attorney General (Department of Natural Resources) will serve as Treasurer. I’ve enjoyed working with them on the Section Council and they’ll serve the Section well.

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The Section’s Fall Institute 2020 had something for everyone

By Robert McFarland
Assistant attorney general, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Needless to say, what goes on in government agencies affects the private realm in one way or another. Many in our MSBA membership who practice in the private sector often interface with government agencies on behalf of their clients. We who advise government agencies work with the agencies to help them work with the private side. Thus, having a forum where we can meet and share our knowledge and experience from both perspectives is desirable.

The MSBA’s State and Local Government Section naturally focuses on matters of governmental interest, but is also a forum for both private and government practitioners to help work together more effectively for our clients, whoever they may be. Just as in other sections, we seek to be a resource to all our MSBA members, so in the COVID-driven virtual world the State and Local Government Section was proud to present virtually in the end of October its Fall Institute for all Association members.    

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Introducing the Maryland State and Local Government Law Blog

By Chris Mincher

The Maryland State Bar Association State and Local Government Law Section is proud to unveil this blog, a forum — the first in the state, as far as we can tell — for commentary and news relevant to Maryland’s government practitioners. Authored by Section members (and the occasional special invited guest), the blog aims to be a prime source for information on a wide range of topics that impact government law practice, including:

  • Developing legal issues
  • Recent cases
  • Legislative changes
  • Section programs and offerings
  • News
  • Job opportunities and personnel changes in government law offices
  • Practice tips
  • Interviews with prominent current and former government attorneys.

The goal is for ever-changing original and diverse viewpoints (but not, we should add, advocacy on behalf of writers’ clients) from a robust cast of contributors. “Goal” is the operative word here, as it takes time to build up a roster of bloggers, establish a steady flow of articles, and draw an audience of repeat viewers. This is especially true when — as many on the Section Council have already learned — government employers may discourage or prohibit their attorneys from engaging in public commentary on the law.

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