A compromise was reached on SB 248 and HB 106 during the waning hours of the last day of the legislative session–and by a significant majority in both the Senate and the House, the legislature approved a bill to increase the surcharge on civil court filing fees to address the funding crisis caused by historically low interest rates on IOLTA.
Projections indicate that the bill as adopted, which contains a three-year sunset provision, would generate approximately $6.1 million annually to address the shortfall in IOLTA revenue and help fund civil legal aid to low-income Marylanders.
“Although short of our original goal, this is a tremendous success by any measure,” said Maryland Legal Services Corp. executive director Susan Erlichman. “This was a tough session and a hard-fought victory.”
Added Maryland Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm Joseph: “Justice-loving members of the bar, bench and the public joined with like-minded legislators in a remarkable full-court press to prevent any diminution in resources to the growing ranks of those in need of civil legal assistance.” Maryland Legal Aid receives more than half of the funding distributed by MLSC.