May a Baltimore City Charter provision requiring elections to fill vacancies
on the Baltimore City Council be given effect?
Answer: Without enactment of a constitutional amendment or a State statute that addresses the issue, the charter provision cannot be given effect.
March 3, 1998
Would proposed legislation to ban the advertising of casino gambling in the
Maryland media be constitutional?
Answer: The proposed ban would be constitutional, although it should be supported by a legislative record to substantiate the State's interest in protecting its citizens against the harms that are particularly presented by commercial casino gambling.
February 5, 1998
1. Is Article 27, §688, which relates to the acquisition, possession, and
use of property by the Division of Correction, obsolete in light of the comprehensive
procurement system and the rules governing the disposition of property established
in Divisions I and II of the State Procurement Law?
2. Is Article 27, §671 of the Code, which relates to bond requirements for persons who contract with the division of Correction, obsolete in light of the rules governing contractor bonds established in the Procurement Law?
Answers: 1. Article 27, §688 is not obsolete.
2. Article 27, §671 is obsolete.
April 10, 1998
Would federal or State law prevent the Montgomery County Council from enacting
legislation prohibiting the solicitation of political contributions under certain
Answer: State legislative authorization is needed if Montgomery County is to enact an ordinance prohibiting the solicitation of political contributions under particular circumstances.
January 27, 1998
Does current law authorize a provision in the domestic violence protective order
form that calls on law enforcement offices to use force to return to the custodial
parent a child kept in violation of the order is authorized by law?
Answer: Current law does not authorize an order to law enforcement officers to forcibly return a minor child to the custodial parent.
[Note: At the request of a number of judges, this opinion is being reconsidered.]
May a sweepstakes race be held at a harness track in Worcester County, with
half of the proceeds used to benefit a local hospital?
Answer: The sweepstakes would be unlawful.
January 7, 1998
May a former Senator, expelled for the remainder of his term, be selected by
the central committee to occupy the vacant seat until the next election?
Answer: In light of the wording of the Senate's expulsion resolution, the former Senator is legally unqualified to serve in this seat until the next election.
February 11, 1998
May the Treasurer and the local officials who have comparable investment authority
invest in money market mutual funds that hold commercial paper?
Is the Maryland Legal Services Corporation prohibited by law from providing
grant funding for legal assistance to victims of crime when they exercise the
various rights afforded to victims under Maryland law?
Robert J. Rhudy,
February 21, 1998
Under the definitions used in Article 27, §141, which makes it a crime
to obtain property or services by a bad check, does "real property"
include a leasehold interest and does "lodging," as a service, include
a residential leasehold interest?
Answer: For purposes of the Bad Check Law, "real property" does not include a leasehold interest and "lodging" does not include a residential leasehold interest.
F. Vallario, Jr.
February 20, 1998
Is the retroactive application of HB 298, which reinstates provisions concerning
civil remedies for bad checks that were accidentally repealed in 1996, constitutional?
Answer: The provision of the bill that makes it retroactive to the effective date of the 1996 law does not violate the Due Process Clauses of the federal and State Constitutions.
Del. Mary Ann
February 17, 1998
If a suit is brought claiming a violation of Article 36 or any other provision
of the Maryland Constitution, what is the case law governing: (i) a prevailing
plaintiff's entitlement to attorney's fees; (ii) damages; and (iii) exhaustion
of administrative remedies?
Answer: (i) A prevailing plaintiff in a suit alleging a violation of the Maryland Constitution is not entitled to attorney's fees.
(ii) In an appropriate case, a court would hold a plaintiff entitled to recover compensable damages for a violation of Article 36 of the Declaration of Rights.
(iii) A claimant may not bypass the administrative agency.
March 18, 1998
What law applies when a Maryland resident purchases a ticket by telephone for
an event in the District of Columbia through a ticket agency?
Answer: With respect to the resulting contract, the general rule in Maryland is that the law where the contract was made governs. In the case of a ticket agency that accepts a telephone order, the applicable law would be the law of the location of the agency.
March 16, 1998
Is HB 140, a bill relating to the criminal misuse of electronic mail, consistent
with recent Supreme Court holdings?
Answer: Criminalizing misuse of electronic mail, as defined and restricted by HB 140, passes constitutional muster.
January 30, 1998
Does the contribution limit of $4,000 in a 4-year cycle bar a donor from giving
$4,000 to a candidate and an additional contribution to a slate of which the
candidate is a member?
Answer: A contributor may contribute either to the slate (up to the applicable limit) or to the candidates who are members of the slate. A contributor who wishes instead to contribute to both the slate and one or more members of the slate should take certain steps to avoid an excessive contribution.
Del. John R.
March 13, 1998
Would a State law violate the Establishment Clause if it required the party
seeking a divorce to file an affidavit attesting that the party has taken all
steps within his or her power to remove any barrier to the other party's remarriage?
Answer: Although the legislation is intended to resolve a problem that arises when an Orthodox Jewish husband refuses to permit a religious divorce, the legislation does not violate the Establishment Clause, because it avoids State endorsement of or entanglement with religious doctrine.
January 22, 1998
February 23, 1998
Is Morgan State University barred by the Establishment Clause from providing
financial or in-kind assistance to the Morgan Christian Center?
Answer: Morgan would not be absolutely barred by the Establishment Clause from providing some financial and in-kind assistance to the Center to promote certain secular, public, and educational purposes.
March 27, 1998
May 911 Trust Fund money be used to establish 311 systems in the various counties?
Mr. Dan Prats
January 28, 1998
What is the impact of House Bill 1041, "Religious Freedom," on curriculum
decisions in the public schools?
Answer: The case law under the compelling interest test suggests that a school system is not required to modify its curriculum to meet religiously based objections to the curriculum.
February 26, 1998
May the Governor grant the Democratic Central Committee a extension of time
to nominate a qualified individual to fill a Senatorial vacancy created by a
Senate resolution expelling a former Senator?
Answer: No, the deadline is a mandatory one.
Mt. T. Michael
February 12, 1998
Does HB 566, which makes a number of changes to the law governing utilization
review by private review agents, apply to residential service agencies?
Answer: The term "health care services," as used in HB 556, includes services that are provided by residential service agencies and are subject to utilization review.
Del. Dan K.
March 18, 1998
Does the Open Meetings Act apply to the meetings of school improvement teams?
Del. Robert H. Kittleman
March 11, 1998
Is a meeting of the Senate Leadership required to be held in public under the
Open Meetings Act?
Answer: The Senate Leadership is not a "public body" subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.
V. "Mike" Miller
January 9, 1998
Does the Maryland Port Administration have authority to sign a limited indemnification
agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers?
March 23, 1998
Does the Public Information Act require disclosure of records of a county council
member that relate to legislation he has sponsored?
Answer: To the extent that these records are part of the process of gathering and considering information in connection with the enactment of legislation, they would be privileged from disclosure.
March 4, 1998
1. May a county employee continue to serve in employment if elected to serve
as a county commissioner?
2. If so, may a county, through its personnel policy, prohibit county employment after an employee's election as a county commissioner?
Answer: 1.An absolute rule cannot be stated. The question of simultaneous service can only be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
2. The proposed personnel policy, which embodies and extends the common law incompatibility doctrine, would be a restriction on dual permissible employment, not a restriction on political activity.
January 12, 1998
Is the position of professor at local college a prohibited second "office"
or "political employment" for a judge of the Orphans' Court?
March 5, 1998
Does a bill making the sexual offender registration law applicable to certain
out- of-State offenders who were convicted of offenses prior to the effective
date of Maryland's sexual offender notification law violate the ex post facto
provisions of the federal and State Constitution?
Answer: While it is less certain than as applied to the law's registration requirements, the notification and public information requirements would most likely also not be found to violate the ex post facto laws when given retroactive effect.
Del. S. Sue
March 9, 1998
Is a local referendum provision constitutional in proposed legislation prohibiting
the Maryland Racing Commission from approving a satellite simulcast betting
facility for Allegany County unless the facility has been approved by the county's
Answer: No. Neither the public general law itself nor the actions of an agency that exercises power delegated under it may be mandated to a local referendum.
R. Taylor, Jr.
January 9, 1998