Legislative News

View from Annapolis - Week 11

Deep breath.

The period immediately after Crossover gives advocacy groups like Maryland REALTORS® a brief moment to take stock of legislation and gear up for the final three weeks of the session.

Bills that passed their original House before this past Monday’s deadline face a smoother path to passage. They will face a Committee hearing and floor debate in the opposite Chamber, and if passed, will then head to the Governor’s desk for final approval. REALTOR® bills in this category include:

  • Pay at the Table (HB 568/SB 425) This legislation protects the 30-year-old practice of giving real estate brokers the option to pay agent commissions at the time of settlement. The House version faced more debate in Committee, but both eventually passed on the floor unanimously.
  • ID Affidavits for CE Classes (HB 807) This bill allows real estate licensees to use an affidavit to show proof of identification when taking CE classes virtually. It passed the House by a vote of 127-0.  It will have its hearing in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 24.

Other REALTOR® Priorities did not fare as well as the ones above. While they could regain life post-Crossover with some Committee maneuvering, it will be incredibly difficult for them to complete the legislative process before the General Assembly adjourns:

  • Accessory Dwelling Units (HB 1259/SB 871) Teaming with a coalition that included AARP and other housing advocates, REALTORS® testified in favor of these bills to loosen local restrictions on constructing accessory living units on residential property. Local governments offered expected opposition on having their local authority over land use curtailed in this area. Both remain in their original Committees after not having received a vote to move them to the floor.
  • Return of Buyer Deposits (HB 720/SB 424) The REALTORS® Advocacy team made a strong push to get these bills through Committee by the Crossover deadline, including by offering amendments to address concerns raised by some title companies and continuing negotiations through last weekend.
  • Love Letters (HB 1457) Legislation to codify a ban on real estate licensees transmitting buyer “love letters” faced several obstacles this session. A delay in bill drafting pushed the bill’s introduction beyond the guaranteed hearing date. This was followed by a federal court injunction that stopped Oregon’s love letter statute from going into effect. Together, these factors prevented the House from scheduling a hearing on the issue, despite interest from members of the General Assembly to look at the practice.
  • Insurance Requirements for Detached Condominiums (HB 553) The second time was not the charm for this bill to amend property insurance requirements for cottage clusters and other detached units organized as condominiums. After having an initial hearing last month, the bill again failed to come to a vote in the House.

Committee hearings are resuming this week for remaining legislation, though many will feature only written testimony from advocates. You can track those in the 2022 Legislative Status Report.