Maryland Farm Bureau has provided the following information on bills which may be of interest to the equestrian community.

HB 1129Maryland Contributory Negligence Act

This bill puts into law the standard of contributory negligence that has been used for years in Maryland as result of case law. The bill defines “contributory negligence” as the common law doctrine of contributory negligence, which retains its judicially determined meaning as it existed on January 1, 2011.  The bill further provides that contributory negligence shall remain an affirmative defense that may be raised by a party against whom a claim is made for damages for wrongful death, personal injury or property damage.  Under this standard, a defendant may be found not responsible for damages if the injured party took any actions that contributed to his or her injury.  Maryland Farm Bureau policy supports the current contributory negligence liability standard because it protects livestock and equine owners from frivolous lawsuits.  We have opposed efforts in the past to adopt a comparative negligence standard. HB 1129 had a hearing March 2 but has gone no where since.  Maryland Farm Bureau is actively supporting this bill, and the Maryland Horse Council has  along history of supporting the standard of contributory negligence, as it protects landowners, horse owners and other business owners.

HB 721 Estate Tax – Exclusion of Qualified Agricultural Property

This bill provides that the Maryland estate tax shall be determined by excluding from the value of the gross estate up to $5 million of the value of qualified agricultural property that passes from the decedent to or for the use of a qualified recipient.  A “qualified agricultural property” is defined as real or personal property that is used primarily for farming purposes.  A “qualified recipient” is defined as is an individual who enters into an agreement to use the agricultural property for farming purposes after the decedent’s death.  The bill further provides that any estate tax owed for the value of qualified agricultural property over $5 million may not exceed 5% of the amount by which it exceeds.  The bill takes effect on July 1, 2011 and is applicable to decedents dying after December 31, 2010.  This bill will set the Maryland estate tax exemption at the same level as the federal exemption.  The current exemption in Maryland is $1 million for all estates. This bill was heard March 12, but there has been no activity since. MFB supports this bill.


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