Baltimore City Council
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File #: 23-0347    Version: 0 Name: Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection
Type: Ordinance Status: In Committee
File created: 2/6/2023 In control: Rules and Legislative Oversight
On agenda: Final action:
Enactment #:
Title: Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection For the purpose of creating the Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection as an independent City agency; providing for the leadership and staffing of the Department; establishing the Department’s purpose, powers, and duties; creating the Commission on Business Licensing and Consumer Protection; providing for the membership of the Commission; establishing the purpose, powers, and duties of the Commission; transferring the administration of certain business licenses to the Department; repealing certain obsolete Boards; providing for a special effective date; and generally relating to business licensing and consumer protection.
Sponsors: Ryan Dorsey, Kristerfer Burnett, Zeke Cohen, Odette Ramos, John T. Bullock, Phylicia Porter, Mark Conway, James Torrence
Indexes: Business, Licensing, Protection
Attachments: 1. 23-0347~1st Reader, 2. ETHICS 23-0347, 3. BCHD 23-0347, 4. BCFD 23-0347, 5. DPW_CCB 23-0347, 6. LAW 23-0347, 7. BCRP 23-0347, 8. 23-0347 ECB, 9. DHCD 23-0347, 10. BCIT 23-0347, 11. DOT 23-0347, 12. PRP Letter in Support of Proposed Baltimore UDAP Ordinance, 13. Economic Action Maryland Testimony Baltimore City Office of Business Licensing & Consumer Protection, 14. Finance 23-0347 (1)
Date Ver.Action ByActionResultAction DetailsMeeting DetailsVideo
7/17/20230 Rules and Legislative Oversight Scheduled for a Public Hearing  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Board of Ethics  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Dept. of Health  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Fire Department  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Dept. of Public Works  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Dept. of Housing and Community Development  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Dept. of Transportation  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Dept. of Finance  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to City Solicitor  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Mayor's Office of Information Technology  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Environmental Control Board  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/9/20230 Baltimore City Council Refer to Dept. of Recreation and Parks  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/6/20230 Baltimore City Council Assigned  Action details Meeting details Not available
2/6/20230 Baltimore City Council Introduced  Action details Meeting details Not available

Explanation: Capitals indicate matter added to existing law.

[Brackets] indicate matter deleted from existing law.

 

                     * Warning: This is an unofficial, introductory copy of the bill.

                     The official copy considered by the City Council is the first reader copy.

                     Introductory*

 

                     City of Baltimore

                     Council Bill          

                                                                                                                                                           

Introduced by: Councilmembers Dorsey and Burnett

                                                                                                                                                           

 

                     A Bill Entitled

 

An Ordinance concerning

title

Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection

For the purpose of creating the Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection as an independent City agency; providing for the leadership and staffing of the Department; establishing the Department’s purpose, powers, and duties; creating the Commission on Business Licensing and Consumer Protection; providing for the membership of the Commission; establishing the purpose, powers, and duties of the Commission; transferring the administration of certain business licenses to the Department; repealing certain obsolete Boards; providing for a special effective date; and generally relating to business licensing and consumer protection.

body

 

By repealing and re-ordaining, with amendments

Article 1 - Mayor, City Council, and Municipal Agencies

Section 41-14(.25)

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By adding

Article 1 - Mayor, City Council, and Municipal Agencies

Sections 42-1 to 42-41 to be under the new subtitle designation,

“Subtitle 42.  Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection”

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By repealing

Article 2 - Consumer Protections

Sections 2-1 and 2-2

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By repealing and re-ordaining, with amendments

Article 2 - Consumer Protections

Sections 1-4, 1-6, 1-8 (b) and (c), 1-9(a), 1-11(a), 1-18(d)(1), (e), and (g), 4-1, 4-2, 6-1(e),

6-11(c), 7-3 to 7-5, 7-8, 7-9(b), 8-2, 8-6, 8-7, 8-8(a), 8-11, 8-12(a), 10-2(a) and (b), 10-8(a),

11-2(b) and (d), 11-3(a), 11-6(a), 11-7(a), 11-12(a), 11-17, 12-3(b), 12-4(b) and (c), 12-7(a), 12-8(a), 12-12, 12-13(a), and 12-15

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By adding

Article 2 - Consumer Protections

Sections 4-3 and 4-4

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By repealing and re-ordaining, with amendments

Article 8 - Ethics

Section 7-8

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By repealing and re-ordaining, with amendments

Article 13 - Housing and Urban Renewal

Sections 13-1(b), 13-3, 13-5 to 13-7, 13-8(a) and (b)(1), 13-9(a), 13-11(a), and 13-16

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By repealing and re-ordaining, with amendments

Article 15 - Licensing and Regulation

Sections 1-1(d), 1-3, 1-8(a) and (b), 1-9(b), 1-10, 1-11(b), 1-12, 1-13(a), 1-14(b),

(c), and (d), 1-16, 1-17, 1-28, 1-29, 1-30(a), 1-31(a), (b)(2), and (c)(1), 2-1(a), 2-11(c),

2-15(e), 2-31, 2-37(b), 2-43 to 2-45, 2-52 to 2-54, 3-1(c), 3-2(a), 3-3, 3-4(b) and (c),

3-5(a)(1), 3-6(b), 3-9(b), 6-1, 6-2(b), 6-5(c), 6-8, 6-9, 6-11(a), 6-13, 6-14, 7-2(b), 7-3,

9-1(d) and (d-1), 9-3, 9-6.1, 9-7(a), 9-8, 9-9, 9-10(b), (c), and (d), 11-1(a), 11-5, 11-6,

11-7, 11-8(a) and (c), 11-9(a), 11-11, 11-13(d), 11-14(a) and (b), 11-15(c), 11-17(b),

12-4(d), 12-8, 12-13, 13-1(b), 13-10, 15-1(b), 15-7, 15-9 to 15-11, 15-12(a) and (c),

15-13(b), 15-14(a) and (d), 15-15, 15-18(a) and (b), 15-19(a) and (c), 18-3(b) and (c),

18-5, 18-8, 20-2, 20-5(a), 20-6, 22-1(a), 22-3, 22-4(a), 22-5, 22-6(a), 22-8(a) and (c),

22-9(a)(1), 22-10(d), 22-11(a), 22-13(h), 22-14(b) and (c), 22-15, 22-16(a), 22-17, and 22-18(a)

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By repealing

Article 15 - Licensing and Regulation

Sections 15-4 to 15-6 and 22-2

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

By repealing and re-ordaining, with amendments

Article 19 - Police Ordinances

Section 71-14(a)

Baltimore City Code

(Edition 2000)

 

Section 1.  Be it ordained by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, That the Laws of Baltimore City read as follows:

 

                     Baltimore City Code

 

                     Article 1.  Mayor, City Council, and Municipal Agencies

 

Subtitle 41.  Civil Citations

 

§ 41-14.  Offenses to which subtitle applies - Listing.

 

(.5)  Article 2.  Consumer Protections

 

Subtitle 42.  Unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices                                                               $1000

 

Subtitle 16.  Ticket Sales - Charges by Operators and Agents                                                               $750

. . .                     

 

 

                     Subtitle 42.  Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection

 

Part I.  Department Established

 

§ 42-1.  Definitions.

 

(a)                     In general.

 

In this subtitle, the following terms have the meanings indicated.

 

(b)                     Board.

 

“Board” means the Baltimore City Business Licensing and Consumer Protection Board.

 

(c)                     Business.

 

“Business” means any person engaged in an enterprise for profit that operates in Baltimore City.

 

(d)                     Complaint.

 

“Complaint” means a written statement submitted to or issued by the Department alleging that a business is committing or has committed 1 or more of the acts described under § 42-28(a) {“Investigation procedures: Initiation of investigation”}.

 

(e)                     Department.

 

“Department” means the Baltimore City Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection.

 

(f)                     Director.

 

“Director” means the Director of the Baltimore City Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection.

 

(g)                     Respondent.

 

“Respondent” means a business that is the subject of a complaint under this subtitle.

 

(h)                     Unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices.

 

“Unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices” has the meaning stated in

§ 13-301 of the State Commercial Law Article.

 

§ 42-2.  Department established.

 

There is a Baltimore City Department of Business Licensing and Consumer Protection.

 

§ 42-3.  Purpose.

 

The purpose of the Department is:

 

(1)                     to centralize the administration of City business licenses, permits, and practices specified in subsection §42-16 of this subtitle;

 

(2)                     to make efficient inspections of City businesses;

 

(3)                     to ensure City businesses are properly licensed and operating in accordance with City law;

 

(4)                     to conduct administrative hearings on contested business licensing enforcement actions;

 

(5)                     to investigate claims of unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices; and

 

(6)                     to enforce business licensing and consumer protection provisions of the City Code.

 

§ 42-4.  Powers.

 

The Department may:

 

(1)                     administer, oversee, and enforce City business licenses, permits, and practices, including business processes and related licenses created by the subtitles specified in § 42-9 {“Business practices under oversight of the Department  - Listing”} of this subtitle;

 

(2)                     receive complaints and take action to investigate complaints of unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices against consumers under City Code Article 2, Subtitle 4 {“Unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices”};

 

(3)                     set licensing fees, with the approval of the Board of Estimates;

 

(4)                     bring enforcement actions against a business for violating City law, including initiating a hearing before the Business Licensing and Consumer Protection Board;                                          

 

(5)                     issue summonses and subpoenas during an investigation under this subtitle;

 

(6)                     issue environmental citations, as described under subtitle 40 of this article;

 

(7)                     issue civil citations, as described under subtitle 41 of this article;

 

(8)                     report to any appropriate government agency with jurisdiction any information concerning violation of any consumer protection law; and

 

(9)                     advise the Mayor and City Council on issues relevant to City business licensing and consumer protection.

 

§ 42-5.  Director of the Department.

 

(a) In general.

 

The Director is responsible for the administration and oversight of the Department.

 

(b) Appointment.

 

The Director is appointed by the Mayor in accordance with Article IV, § 6 of the City Charter.

 

(c)                     Salary.

 

The Director shall receive such salary as may be provided for in the Ordinance of Estimates.

 

§ 42-6.  Staff and budget.

 

(a)  Staff.

 

The Department may employ staff in accordance with the Ordinance of Estimates.

 

(b)  Budget.

 

The Department may expend funds authorized in the Ordinance of Estimates or any supplemental appropriations.

 

§ 42-7.  Rules and regulations.

 

Subject to Title 4 {“Administrative Procedure Act - Regulations”} of the City General Provisions Article, the Director must adopt rules and regulations to carry out this subtitle.

 

§ 42-8.  Annual report.

 

On or before June 30 of each year, the Department must submit an annual report for the previous calendar year to the Mayor and City Council that details:

 

(1)                     the activities of the Department;

 

(2)                     complaints received by the Department, including the following information:

 

(i)                     number of complaints filed and investigated by the Department;

 

(ii)                     number of investigations initiated by the Department;

 

(iii) nature of complaints filed with the Department; and

 

(iv) the disposition or resolution of each complaint or investigation;

 and

 

(3)                     recommendations for additional legislation and policy to regulate business licensing and protect consumers.

 

§ 42-9.  Business practices under oversight of the Department  - Listing.

 

The Department is responsible for the administration, oversight, and enforcement of the business processes, related licenses, and prohibitions created by the subtitles listed below:

 

(1)                     Article 2.  Consumer Protection

 

Subtitle 1.  Auctions

 

Subtitle 4.  Unfair, Abusive, or Deceptive Trade Practices

 

Subtitle 6.  “Going Out of Business” Sales

Subtitle 7.  Scrap Collectors and Scavengers

 

Subtitle 8.  Scrap Metal Dealers

 

Subtitle 10.  Motor Fuel Sales

 

Subtitle 11.  Pawnbrokers

 

Subtitle 12.  Second-Hand Property, Antiques, and Consignment Goods

 

(2)                     Article 13.  Housing and Urban Renewal

 

Subtitle 13.  Licensing of Peep Show Establishments

 

(3)                     Article 15.  Licensing and Regulation

 

Subtitle 1.  Adult-Entertainment Business

 

Subtitle 2.  Amusements

 

Subtitle 3.  Amusement Device Location Permits

 

Subtitle 6.  Carriages, Wagons, Boats, and Scows

 

Subtitle 7.  Employment Agencies

 

Subtitle 9.  Late-Night Commercial Operations

 

Subtitle 11.  Massage Establishments

 

Subtitle 12.  Commercial Parking Facilities

 

Subtitle 13.  Special-Event Parking Lots

 

Subtitle 15.  Street Entertainers

 

Subtitle 17.  Street Vendors

 

Subtitle 18.  Itinerant Wholesale Produce Dealers

 

Subtitle 20.  Transient Merchants

 

Subtitle 22.  Towing Services - Trespass Towing

 

§§ 42-10 to 42-15.  {Reserved}

 

Part II. Business Licensing and Consumer Protection Board

 

§ 42-16.  Established.

 

There is a Baltimore City Business Licensing and Consumer Protection Board.

 

§ 42-17.  Composition.                                           

 

(a)                     In general.

 

The Board comprises the following 5 members, appointed by the Mayor in accordance with Article IV, § 6 {“Appointments of municipal officers.”} of the Baltimore City Charter:

 

(1)                     1 member nominated in consultation with the President of the City Council;

 

(2)                     1 member nominated in consultation with the City Comptroller; and

 

(3)                     3 members named by the Mayor, at least 2 of whom must be members of the Maryland Bar.

 

(b)                     Qualifications.

 

A Board member must:

 

(i)                     be an individual of known personal integrity;

 

(ii)                     possess a recognized knowledge in business licensing or consumer

protection; and

 

(iii) be a resident of the City of Baltimore.

 

§ 42-18.  Terms of office and organization.

 

(a)  Terms.

 

A Board member shall serve a term of 4 years, concurrent with the terms of the Mayor and the City Council and, at the end of a term, a Board member continues to serve until a successor is appointed and qualified.

 

(b)  Chair.

 

The members of the Board shall annually elect a chair from among the members of the Board.

 

(c)  Vacancies.

 

If there is a vacancy in the membership of the Board, the new member shall be appointed in the same manner as the previous member.

 

(d)  Compensation.

 

The members of the Board shall receive no compensation for their services on the Board, but shall be reimbursed for the reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

 

(e) Meetings; Quorum.

 

(1)                     The Board shall meet at least monthly.

 

(2)                     A majority of the members of the Board constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business.

 

(f)                     Attendance at meetings.

 

Any appointed member of the Board who fails to attend 4 consecutive meetings without good cause as determined by the Mayor shall be deemed to have resigned.

 

§ 42-19.  Powers and duties.

 

(a)                     In general.

 

The Board shall adjudicate all hearings of the Department.                                          

 

(b)                     Other duties.

 

In coordination and consultation with the Department, the Board shall:

 

(1)                     review and propose improvements to existing City rules, regulations, and laws with respect to business licensing and consumer protection;

 

(2)                     research and recommend new programs and training that could be delivered to consumers and businesses; and

 

(3)                     evaluate current programs and proposed legislation to determine their impact on consumers and businesses.

 

(c) Informational hearings and studies.

 

As appropriate, the Board may hold informational hearings and undertake surveys and studies to:

 

(1)                     evaluate existing City policies and procedures in regard to business licensing and consumer protection; and

 

(2)                     make recommendations for the improvement of existing policies and procedures to the Director.

 

(d)  Annual report.

 

The Board shall submit an annual report on its activities to the Department to be included in the Department’s annual report to the Mayor and City Council, as described in § 42-8 {“Annual report”} of this subtitle.

 

§§ 42-20 to 42-25.  {Reserved}

 

Part III.  Departmental Procedures

 

Upon Receipt or Issuance of Complaint

 

§ 42-26.  Commencement of action.

 

(a)                     On complaint of other.

 

(1)                     Any person may file a written complaint with the Department alleging that a business is committing or has committed 1 or more of the acts described under § 42-28(a) {“Investigation procedures: Initiation of investigation”}.

 

(2)                     A complaint filed under this subsection must be in the form required by the Director.

 

(b)                     On Director’s motion.

 

The Director may issue a written complaint alleging that a business is  committing or has committed 1 or more of the acts described under § 42-28(a) {“Investigation procedures: Initiation of investigation”}.

 

§ 42-27.  Copy to respondent.

 

(a)                     In general.

 

Upon receipt or issuance of a complaint, the Department must, via regular mail, send a copy of the complaint to the business named in the complaint, who shall be the respondent.

 

(b)  Confidentiality.

 

For a complaint filed under § 42-26(a) {“Commencement of action: On complaint of other”} of this subtitle, the Director must redact from the copy sent to the respondent:

 

(1) the complainant’s name; and

 

(2) to the fullest extent possible, any other information that might

identify the complainant.

 

§ 42-28.  Investigation procedures.

 

(a)                     Initiation of investigation.

 

The Department shall investigate a complaint alleging that a business is:

 

(1)                     operating without a license;

 

(2)                     operating with improper licensure;

 

(3)                     violating the terms of a business license; or

 

(4)                     engaging in unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practices.

 

(b) Complaint not within jurisdiction of Department.

 

(1)                     Dismissal and referral.

 

If a complaint is not within the jurisdiction of the Department under subsection (a) of this section, the Department shall dismiss the complaint and, if appropriate, refer the complaint to another entity with jurisdiction over the matter.

 

(2)                     Notification.

 

If a complaint is dismissed under this subsection, the Department shall

promptly notify the complainant and respondent.  

 

(c)                      Investigation.

 

(1)                     In general.

 

Upon receipt or issuance of a complaint, the Department shall promptly investigate the complaint. 

 

(2)                     Subpoenas.

 

In the course of an investigation, the Department may issue a subpoena to

require any person to:

 

(i)                     produce information, documents, reports, records, accounts, or any

other evidence related to the allegations in the complaint; and

 

(ii)                     appear under oath to give testimony related to the allegations in

the complaint.

 

  (3) Oaths.

 

The Director may administer oaths as permitted under this section.

 

(4) Report of findings.

 

The Department shall prepare a written report of findings as soon as practicable after the conclusion of the investigation.

 

§ 42-29.  Director’s action upon completed report of findings.                     

 

(a)                     Actions.

 

If the Director determines that the report of findings contains information tending to substantiate an allegation in the complaint, the

director may take 1 or more of the following actions:

 

(1)                     refer the complaint for a hearing before the Board;

 

(2)                     issue a civil citation;

 

(3)                     issue an environmental citation;

 

(4)                     provide the respondent with the opportunity to remedy the behavior at issue in the complaint;

 

(5)                     seek injunctive relief in a court of competent jurisdiction; and

 

(6)                     any other legal or equitable relief or enforcement available under the law.

 

(b)                     Dismissal.

 

(1)                     In general.

 

If the Director determines that the report of findings does not contain information that tends to substantiate an allegation in the complaint, the Director shall dismiss the complaint and, if appropriate, refer the complaint to another entity with jurisdiction over the matter.

 

(2)                     Notification.

 

If the Department dismisses a complaint under this subsection, the Director shall promptly notify the complainant and respondent of the dismissal.

 

§§ 42-30 to 42-35.  {Reserved}

 

Part IV.  Hearing Procedures

 

§ 42-36.  Hearing procedures.

 

(a)                     In general.

 

If the Director refers a complaint for a hearing before the board under

§ 42-29 {“Director’s action upon completed report of findings”} of this subtitle, the Board must provide the respondent with notice and an opportunity for a hearing before the Board.

 

(b)                     Representation by counsel.

 

In any hearing conducted by the Board, the respondent is entitled to be represented by counsel.

 

(c)                     Subpoenas.

 

       The Board may issue a subpoena to require any person to:

 

(1)                     produce information, documents, reports, records, accounts, or any

other evidence; and

 

(2)                     appear under oath to testify.

(d)                     Oaths.

 

The Chair may administer oaths as permitted under this subtitle.

 

§ 42-37.  Board disposition and remedies.

 

(a)                     In general.

 

If, upon consideration of the entire record produced at the hearing, the Board finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the respondent has violated the City Code, the Board may take 1 or more of the following actions:

 

(1)                     issue an order directing the respondent to cease and desist from the violation;

 

(2)                     issue a reprimand;

 

(3)                     revoke or suspend the respondent’s license;

 

(4)                     report to any appropriate government agency with jurisdiction any information concerning a violation of any law;

 

(5)                     refer a violation or complaint to any federal, State, or local agency with jurisdiction over the complaint;

 

(6)                     order the respondent to restore money or property to the person who made the complaint;

 

(7)                     order the respondent to pay any costs of investigation or related activities of the Department;

 

(8)                     impose and order the respondent to pay any relevant civil penalty authorized by law; and

 

(9)                     take any other action that would:

 

(i)                     assist the person who made the complaint in obtaining relief; or

 

(ii)                     prevent future violations of law.

 

(b)                     Considerations.

 

In ordering any remedy, the Board shall consider:

 

(1)                     the severity of the violation;

 

(2)                     the severity of any harm to consumers;

 

(3)                     the motives of the respondent;

 

(4)                     any previous violations by the same business or business owner;

 

(5)                     whether the remedy will deter future misconduct; and

 

(6)                     whether a stop order or restitution would sufficiently protect

consumers or the person who made the complaint.

 

§ 42-38.  Enforcement by Director.

 

(a)                     Subpoenas.

 

If any person does not comply with any subpoena issued under this subtitle, the Director may enforce the subpoena by seeking injunctive or other appropriate relief in a court of competent jurisdiction.

 

(b)                     Civil penalties.

 

The Director may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction to recover any civil penalty imposed by the Director or the Board.

 

(c)                     Board orders.

 

The Director may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce any order, decision, or other enforcement action of the Board. 

 

(d)                     Injunctive relief.

 

The Director may seek injunctive or other appropriate relief in a court of competent jurisdictio