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MACo Action Alert: Local Gov't Tort Claims 2
MACo Action Alerts

Thursday, April 9, 2015

ACTION

Contact your Senators to urge them to vote NO on HB 113, the Local Government Tort Claims Act. This bill will be on third reader on the Senate floor tomorrow, Friday, April 10.

THE ISSUE

As amended by the Senate, HB 113 increases the caps under the Local Government Tort Claims Act from $200,000 to $500,000 per individual claim and from $500,000 to $1,000,000 for all claims arising from the same incident. The amended bill also extends the notification period for which a local government is to be notified of a claim from 6 months to one year.

Tort actions against local governments are capped because counties, cities, and towns use taxpayer dollars to litigate claims brought against them.  The bill as amended will have significant  negative effects on county and municipal governments.

CONCERNS

Increasing the caps and extending the notification period could have severe fiscal consequences.  The caps are important because:

  • Local governments provide essential services that businesses do not provide, including Law enforcement, corrections, and firefighting services; road, sidewalk, and storm drain maintenance; local public transportation; solid waste collection; building inspection; animal control; recreation and park facilities; and water and sewer services
  • These services do not generate profit for local governments and incur much more liability because local governments are a 24-7 operation covering all public property in the state.
  • Local governments have constrained budgets reliant on taxpayer dollars. Increases in liability costs for essential daily services will result in decreases in services provided to residents.

The Local Government Tort Claims Act strikes an appropriate balance between plaintiffs’ rights and protections for local governments and local taxpayers against crippling court awards.

Contact you Senators and urge them to vote NO on the bill as amended by the Senate.

KEY CONTACTS

MARYLAND SENATE

MACo’s Testimony for HB 113

MACo Contact: Natasha Mehu, Policy Analyst


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