Maryland's legislative leaders today appointed a bipartisan panel to study the impact of recent court ruling that labeled pit bulls as 'inherently dangerous' for liability purposes and to make recommendations about possible legislative fixes.
Five members from each chamber have been named, including three of the five delegates who introduced legislation aimed at overturning the court's ruling during the May special session in Annapolis.
The 4-3 decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals came in April after the General Assembly's regular session expired, and drew outrage from dog owners who fear that thousands of pit bulls will be put down. Under the ruling, an attack victim would not need to prove that a pit bull has a history of bites before making a claim.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller wrote in a letter today that the court decision will have a "profound effect" on "dogs, dog owners, property owners, tenants and landlords."
Both Democratic leaders have said the pit bull issue should be addressed as soon as the expected July 9 special session -- though the letter does not set out a time table for the task force to complete its work.
The task force is directed to review "the common law of Maryland, the [court] decision, the common law and statutes in other states, the viability and definition of breed-specific standards in Maryland, a dog owner or landlord's ability to secure property insurance, as well as existing breed-specific prohibitions in local jurisdictions in Maryland."
Members of the task force include Senate Judicial Proceedings Chairman Brian Frosh, Sens. Lisa Gladden, Joseph Getty, Jamie Raskin and Norman Stone. From the House, members include: Delegates Curtis Anderson, Eric Bromwell, Ben Kramer, Heather Mizeur and Michael Smigiel.