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Maryland LCV Lauds Senators Cardin and Van Hollen for Chesapeake Bay Funding Efforts

Maryland LCV Lauds Senators Cardin and Van Hollen for Chesapeake Bay Funding Efforts

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) are leading Democratic senators from throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in urging the leadership of the Senate Committee on Appropriations to support strong funding levels for several agencies and programs vital to the recovery and stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. The Senators’ funding request is here.

“The Chesapeake Bay is a natural treasure that is crucial to Maryland’s voters, watermen, businesses, and tourism,” said Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble. “Senators Cardin and Van Hollen have long fought to restore the Chesapeake and for sound water policies that ensure everyone in Maryland has clean water to drink, explore, and enjoy. We once again thank Maryland’s Senators for their efforts to ensure the Chesapeake Bay’s continued restoration is fully funded and prioritized.”

2021 Legislative Session Falls Short on Significant Climate Action but Brings Noteworthy Environmental Advances, says Maryland LCV

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2021                                                            

2021 Legislative Session Falls Short on Significant Climate Action but Brings Noteworthy Environmental Advances, says Maryland LCV

Annapolis, MD – Significant victories for Maryland’s environment were achieved during the 2021 Legislative Session, including advances in transit funding, a reformed Environmental Justice Commission, and a commitment to transition the state’s bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles, according to the state’s leading environmental watchdog group, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. The legislature failed to address the urgency of climate change, however, by allowing the Climate Solutions Now Act to languish in the bureaucratic process.

“The session was unprecedented in many ways because of the coronavirus, but Marylanders on the whole should be proud of the breakthroughs that were made on important environmental issues,” said Kim Coble, Maryland LCV’s executive director. “The transit funding bill will mean safer, and more equitable transit options for Marylanders, with the associated benefit of providing family-sustaining jobs. A reformed Environmental Justice Commission similarly sets us on a path for a more equitable Maryland, with fairer representation of more community members. And transitioning the state’s bus fleet to zero-emissions buses will be a win-win for budgets, communities, and our public health.

Coble expressed disappointment that the two chambers could not reach agreement and pass the Climate Solutions Now bill. 

“This bill would have taken steps in the right direction, particularly with regards to setting a definitive goal of net-zero emissions by 2045,” said Coble. “Science tells us we need stronger, faster emissions reductions to meaningfully address the urgency of the climate crisis, and statewide polling tells us that’s what Maryland voters want. It is disappointing that for the second year in a row, legislators were not able to pass a comprehensive bill that would adequately address the climate crisis.

The Environmental Justice Commission Reform bill took steps forward to start to address environmental justice in Maryland. The Commission’s work will be critical if the state is to take the strong actions that are needed. “In the big picture, we still lack a comprehensive framework that advances equitable and just environmental policies in Maryland,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Maryland LCV deputy executive director and director of Chispa Maryland. “We look forward to working with the reformed Commission to not only stop harmful pollution, but also support solutions that are community driven and geared toward creating social and economic opportunities in impacted communities.” 

“Marylanders should feel proud that we came together during this difficult legislative session to achieve progress on key environmental legislation,” said Coble. “And those of us working in the trenches also greatly appreciate the hard work and dedication of our legislators over the past three months, especially under uniquely difficult conditions. We applaud the members and staff of the Maryland General Assembly and the Department of General Services for their diligence and leadership and look forward to working with them to take even bolder steps to address the climate crisis in the very near future.”

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Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8th, 2021

Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act
Group applauds passage of landmark bill to address longtime transit maintenance backlog, improve safety, reliability, equity and access; cautions that it’s a first step in a long process to shore up system

Annapolis, MD – A broad statewide coalition hailed final passage of the Transit Safety & Investment Act (HB 114), a critical measure to improve public transportation across the state. The bi-partisan bill, championed by Sens. Cory McCray and Craig Zucker and Del. Brooke Lierman, mandates minimum funding levels in MTA’s six year capital budget to begin to close the $2 billion gap in the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA’s) maintenance backlog. 

The coalition brought together supporters from a wide array of organizations: environmental, transportation, business, labor, disability rights, civil rights, education, workforce development, faith, healthcare, and community.

“For too long, our transportation system has been underinvested, affecting job security and the economy. This ends today, as the Act ensures that Maryland makes investments that meet capital needs so that we may have a safe and reliable transit system,” said Senator Cory McCray, representing Baltimore City’s district 45. “As a native of Baltimore City, in middle school and high school I had to take two buses to and from school. And that’s what this is really all about: making sure our children can get to school, our seniors can pick-up prescriptions, and that those who find public transit a necessity can depend on it.” 

The legislation mandates an average minimum amount of $451 million annually for MTA capital needs for the next six years, plus a minimum of $319 million in a seventh year, fiscal year 2029. The mandate ensures that the MTA will get close to the $462 million it needs to chip away at its backlog of deferred state of good repair needs. It will help maintain safety systems, bus shelters, buses, light rail, subway and MARC tracks and switches, and more.

“In infrastructure, you get what you pay for – and for the past six years, the Hogan Administration has refused to adequately fund our transit system. That has meant poor service, broken buses, unsafe rail, and aging infrastructure,” said Delegate Brooke Lierman, representing Baltimore City’s district 46. “By passing the Transit Safety & Investment Act, the General Assembly has declared that Marylanders deserve safe and reliable transit to get them to work, to school, to the doctor and to other destinations. MTA has done the work of identifying the projects it needs to complete to have a robust and on-time system, and with this guaranteed funding over the next several years they will be able to undertake those important projects, helping to transform our region and building more prosperous families.”

“We are finally making sure the money hits the road with this strong investment  in our transportation infrastructure. I applaud all those who worked so hard to make this reality.”
Senator Craig Zucker, representing Montgomery County’s district 14. 

Maryland’s metro subway, light rail, bus and commuter rail system is ranked among the worst states in the country for breakdowns and delays and its paratransit service is failing. The new funding will improve service and reliability and ensure the system’s trains, buses and facilities are safe. The bill also passed with an amendment sponsored by Senator Corderman that would require the Maryland Department of Transportation to study the cost and feasibility of expanding MARC service to Western Maryland.

The coalition is calling on Governor Hogan to sign the measure or allow it to pass into law when it reaches his desk. The group also stressed that while this legislation is an important step to improving public transit in Maryland, a lot remains to be done to modernize and expand the system so that it works for everyone.

Advocates from around the state weighed in on the legislation: 

“Essential workers who rely on MTA service have made an incalculable contribution to the public’s health and well-being throughout the pandemic; they deserve a first class transit system, not one riddled with delays and long-neglected repairs. The road to recovery is long but, thanks to the passage of the Transit Safety and Investment Act, we have taken an important first step toward building a safe, reliable transit system for our essential workers and riders.”
Elizabeth Bunn, Maryland State Director, Labor Network for Sustainability

“We are elated that the Maryland General Assembly has taken this crucial first step to improve the public transit system in Maryland.  Maryland LCV’s own polling found that 76% of Maryland voters said that increasing the availability and quality of public transportation options should be a priority. It is great to see that legislators listened to their constituents. We can now begin to ensure Marylanders will have access to a reliable and safe transit system over individual transport, which is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland.”
-Kim Coble, Executive Director, Maryland League of Conservation Voters

“The passage of the Transit Safety and Investments Act puts urgent funding for an equitable, safe, and reliable public transportation system for Maryland in the hands of the people and their legislators – just where the future of transit belongs!”
Samuel Jordan, President, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition 

“This funding will help MTA fix their backlog of repairs. We hear complaints from transit riders about breakdowns, no-show buses, and riders in wheelchairs getting passed up by buses because bus wheelchair ramps are broken. It’s my hope that this funding will help improve the quality of service transit riders in Maryland receive for years to come.”
– Brian O’Malley, President & CEO, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance

“We are thrilled that the Transit Safety & Investment Act passed the General Assembly. This bill is a priority for the Sierra Club and the Maryland environmental community. All Marylanders deserve a safe and reliable transit system that reduces climate pollution and improves mobility.”
Josh Tulkin, Director, Maryland Sierra Club

By |2021-04-08T15:08:54-04:00April 8th, 2021|Categories: Blog, Policy, Press|0 Comments

Montgomery County Public Schools to Transition Their Diesel School Bus Fleet to Zero-Emission Clean School Buses for Healthy Kids

 Maryland League of Conservation Voters Applauds the Decision of Maryland League of Conservation Voters Applauds the Decision of Montgomery County Public Schools to Transition Their Diesel School Bus Fleet to Zero-Emission Clean School Buses for Healthy Kids

February 25, 2021

ANNAPOLIS, MD. – This week, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) approved a contract to lease 326 electric school buses as part of a pan to electrify its entire school bus fleet. 

“Chispa Maryland applauds MCPS for taking this unprecedented step in protecting the health of children and beginning this transition to a clean ride for kids,” said Ramón Palencia-Calvo, Deputy Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and Director of Chispa Maryland, a community organizing program of Maryland LCV.  “This contract demonstrates that school systems can transition their diesel bus fleets to zero-emission clean electric buses while keeping their transportation budgets neutral. We hope other school systems in Maryland can adopt one of the several financial solutions available to bypass the initial costs to transition their diesel fleets to zero-emission school buses.”

Diesel emissions are the most harmful type of transportation emissions. Diesel school buses not only pollute our air and harm our children’s lungs and developing organs, but they also contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions worsening the effects of climate change. Initial costs of electric school buses is still a barrier for school systems to transition their diesel fleets to zero-emission electric school fleets. There are several strategies that school systems and other stakeholders can employ to offset the upfront cost.

In this legislative session, Chispa Maryland and Maryland LCV are supporting House Bill 832, Public Utilities-Electric School Bus Pilot Program, which would deploy electric school buses with vehicle-to-grid-technology, and the Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act of 2021 (HB0334/SB0137), which would mandate beginning in 2023 all contracts for state-purchased buses need to be for zero-emission vehicles, leading to a complete transition of the fleet. 

Chispa, an organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters, launched its Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign in 2015 to push state governments to use Volkswagen settlement funds to purchase zero-emission electric school buses. In 2017 Chispa Maryland, a program of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, launched the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign in Maryland. 

 

By |2021-03-24T13:46:56-04:00February 25th, 2021|Categories: Blog, DEIJ, Partner, Policy, Press|Tags: , , |0 Comments

2020 Legislative Champions

Environmental Champions and Leaders

Maryland LCV honors those legislators who were sponsors and leaders on our 2020 legislative priorities:

Agriculture

  • Chlorpyrifos Ban: Del. Dana Stein and Sen. Clarence Lam
Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to be toxic and linked to significant, adverse health impacts in children. Although prohibited for commercial or residential use for years, it is still permitted for use on crops and golf courses. This bill would ban all uses of chlorpyrifos.

Resiliency

  • Environmental Accountability and Transparency:  Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
Increasing transparency of the inspection and enforcement data by state agencies would dramatically help community groups and non-profit monitoring organizations enforce environmental laws. The bill also would have created an ombudsman position in the Office of the Attorney General to facilitate coordination between agencies and citizens.
Water
  • Plastic Bag Ban: Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Malcolm Augustine
Banning plastic bags from point-of-sale throughout the state would reduce water pollution, diminish Maryland’s reliance on petroleum products and fossil fuels, and clean our air and waterways.

Transportation

  • Transit Funding: Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Craig Zucker
According to a Capital Needs Assessment released by the Department of Transportation, Maryland’s public transit system has a $2 billion shortfall over the next 10 years. The transportation sector is the single greatest contributor to Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions and provides critical services to low-income communities. Public transit system improvements are essential to substantively tackling climate change and environmental justice.
  • State Fleet Bus Electrification: Del. Marc Korman and Sen. Craig Zucker
Diesel emissions cause climate pollution and threaten the respiratory health of passengers, drivers, and especially low-income communities that are frequently located near major roadways.This bill would require a gradual transition of all buses purchased by the state to zero-emission vehicles.
  • Transportation Carbon Fund Act (TCI): Del. Marc Korman
This bill creates a special fund to finance projects related to the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multi-state effort to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy, and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
  • School Bus Electrification: Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo
Diesel emissions from school buses disproportionately affect the health of low-income students and students of color. This bill would require a gradual transition of all buses purchased by county boards of elections — or independent contractors hired to serve public schools — to zero-emission vehicles.

Climate

  • Coal Transition: Del. Kumar Barve and Sen. Chris West
Coal plants are a leading contributor to smog-forming nitrous oxide pollution.  More than 85% of Marylanders — and 90% of African American and Hispanic communities — live in counties with air quality below federal standards. This bill would set a timeline for the retirement of Maryland’s remaining coal-fired power plants, with a transition plan that invests in communities, workers and counties with coal plants.
Maryland LCV also recognizes members who sponsored additional environmental community priority legislation:
  • Sustainable Buildings Act: Del. Terri Hill and Sens. Guy Guzzone and Clarence Lam
  • Removing Incineration Subsidies: Del. Nick Mosby and Sen. Michael Hough
  • Oyster Fisheries Override: Del Kumar Barve and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
  • Oyster Corrective Bill: Del. Jim Gilchrist and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
We applaud these legislators for sponsoring legislation on climate policy
  • Climate Solutions Act: Del. Dana Stein and Sen. Paul Pinsky
  • PSC Climate Bill: Del. Lorig Charkoudian and Sen. Ben Kramer
  • Carbon Pricing: Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo and Sen. Ben Kramer
  • Community Choice Energy: Del. Lorig Charkoudian and Sen. Pam Beidle
We applaud these legislators for sponsoring legislation on water policy
  • Conowingo Dam Emergency Legislation: Del. Jay Jacobs and Sen. Steve Hershey
  • County Resilience Authority: Del. Courtney Watson and Sen. Sarah Elfreth
  • BRF for Resilience Funding: Del. Courtney Watson and Sen. Katie Fry Hester

An Insider’s View on the Elections

An Insider’s View on the Elections

On October 6th, our Executive Director, Kim Coble was joined by the national League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski for a behind-the-scenes look at the general election and what it could mean for our environment.

Candace Dodson-Reed is our VIP moderator. Candace is the host of the popular Elevate Maryland podcast. She’s also the chief of staff and executive director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion at UMBC and on the board of Maryland LCV.

Check out the recording below

 

By |2021-03-24T13:48:03-04:00October 6th, 2020|Categories: Blog, DEIJ, Donor, Electoral, Partner, Policy, Successes|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

U.S. Congress Passes Great American Outdoors Act

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2020
Contact: Ben Alexandro, balexandro@mdlcv.org, 845-596-9634

U.S. Congress Passes Great American Outdoors Act

Landmark bill will protect open spaces in Maryland and throughout the United States

Washington, D.C. – By a bipartisan vote of 310-107, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark environmental bill that will restore parks and public lands in Maryland and across the country and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCF). The bill, which passed the Senate on June 17, now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a significant victory for Maryland,” said Maryland League of Conservation Voters Executive Director, Kim Coble. “The bill guarantees that Marylanders will have access to clean, safe, and healthy parks for years to come.”

The Great American Outdoors Act will allow the National Park Service to restore resources that are deteriorating due to age and inconsistent funding. In Maryland alone, park sites that welcome nearly 7 million visitors and support more than 2,900 jobs each year require $244 million in repairs. The now-permanent LWCF funding is significant for Maryland: The state has received $231.8 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Maryland also uses LWCF to leverage additional funds, such as state Program Open Space money that funds hundreds of facilities and creates access to local and state parks.

Coble lauded the role of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in shepherding the Great American Outdoors Act through Congress. “For decades, Marylanders have always known that Steny Hoyer would go to the mat for Maryland’s special places,” said Coble. “His tremendous leadership in moving the Great American Outdoors Act through Congress will provide lasting benefits to Marylanders and all Americans.”

The Maryland League of Conservation and its members weighed in heavily in support of the Great American Outdoors Act. Early in July, Maryland LCV organized 36 Maryland conservation groups to urge Rep. Hoyer’s continued leadership, and Maryland LCV reached hundreds of thousands of Marylanders through drive-time radio ads and extensive on-line advocacy in both English and Spanish. 

Here are quotes from other Maryland organizations that joined with us in advocating for the Great American Outdoors Act:

“Our parks are inundated with people — a great problem to have, but our parks need help so they can remain treasures that connect people to nature while preserving delicate ecosystems. The Great American Outdoors Act is that help,” said Emily Ranson, Clean Water Action, Maryland Director.

“The Alice Ferguson Foundation applauds Majority Leader Hoyer’s continuous leadership of environmental causes both locally and nationally. The Great American Outdoors Act will continue to ensure our national parks thrive for future generations,” said Theresa Cullen, Executive Director, Alice Ferguson Foundation.

“GAOA funding will support our Urban parks and recreational spaces that are used by millions of people close to home,” said  Jim Foster, President, Anacostia Watershed Society.

“This passage of the Great American Outdoors Act ensures that our irreplaceable Maryland parks and public lands will continue to be protected, and that all Marylanders will have access to nature. By continuing to provide funds for our parks we help cool our communities with green spaces as climate change heats up, and create opportunities to expand outdoor education programming,” said Denisse Guitarra, MD Conservation Advocate at Audubon Naturalist Society.

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 Maryland LCV is known for educating lawmakers and holding them accountable for their leadership and votes on key environmental issues. Their annual scorecard, along with other reports, help inform voters about their legislators’ records.

Maryland League of Conservation Voters
30 West Street, Suite C
Annapolis, MD 21401
www.mdlcv.org

Great news! The Great American Outdoors Act Passes out of Congress

By a bipartisan vote of 310-107, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark environmental bill that will restore parks and public lands in Maryland and across the country and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCF). The bill, which passed the Senate on June 17, now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a significant victory for Maryland,” said Maryland League of Conservation Voters Executive Director, Kim Coble. “The bill guarantees that Marylanders will have access to clean, safe, and healthy parks for years to come.”

Check out our press release here.

Maryland members of Congress and how they voted:

Senator Ben Cardin: Voted Yes

Senator Chris Van Hollen: Voted Yes

District 1 Representative Andrew Harris: Voted No

District 2 Representative Dutch Ruppersberger: Voted Yes

District 3 Representative John Sarbanes: Voted Yes

District 4 Representative Anthony Brown: Voted Yes

District 5 Representative Steny Hoyer: Voted Yes

District 6 Representative David Trone: Voted Yes

District 7 Representative Kweisi Mfume: Voted Yes

District 8 Representative Jamie Raskin: Voted Yes

Sign our Thank you card to Majority Leader Hoyer and other members of congress who voted for the Great American Outdoors Act and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has supported or enhanced the protection of many of the most special parks and other natural areas across the state.

Looking up through the trees into a clear sunny sky

 The Fund was permanently authorized in 2019, but that does not guarantee that the $900 million put into the LWCF account every year will be spent on conservation. Over the 55 years of the program, billions of dollars have been siphoned from the fund for other non-conservation purposes. In fact, this past fiscal year 2020, only $495 million was appropriated to LWCF—far short of full funding, and yet the highest amount in 15 years.Maryland is filled with hidden treasures of natural beauty. A true “America in miniature,” our wonderful state has towering tree-covered mountains in the west, and long stretches of sand-covered beaches on our Eastern Shore, and is home to the bountiful Chesapeake Bay.

That means the money that should have gone to increasing recreation opportunity for all, protecting our parks from being sold off to the highest bidder, providing close-to-home playgrounds and ballfields to support healthy kids and families, safeguarding our drinking water supplies, and keeping working forests in sustainable operation instead of subdivided and developed — went somewhere else. 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has provided funding to help protect some of Maryland’s most special places and ensure recreational access for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. 

Maryland has received approximately $231.8 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal National Historic Park.

Forest Legacy Program (FLP) grants are also funded under LWCF, to help protect working forests. The FLP cost-share funding supports timber sector jobs and sustainable forest operations while enhancing wildlife habitat, water quality and recreation. 

For example, the FLP contributed to places such as the Broad Creek in Dublin and the Coastal Bay project in Snow Hill. FLP has directly protected 2,014 acres in Maryland. The program assists states and private forest owners to maintain working forest lands through matching grants for permanent conservation easement and fee acquisitions, and has leveraged approximately $4.6 million in federal funds to invest in Maryland’s forests. These forests enhance air and water quality and provide wildlife habitat and recreational access.

LWCF state assistance grants have further supported hundreds of projects across Maryland’s state and local parks including Conquest Waterfront Preserve in Queen Anne’s County and Seneca State Park in Montgomery County.

Economic Benefits

Active outdoor recreation is an important part of the Maryland economy. The Outdoor Industry Association has found that active outdoor recreation generates $14 billion in consumer spending in Maryland; provides 109,000 jobs that generate $4.4 billion in wages and salaries; and produces nearly $951 million annually in state and local tax revenue. Further, the U.S. Census reports that each year over 2.7 million people hunt, fish, or enjoy wildlife-watching in Maryland, contributing over $1.6 billion in wildlife recreation spending to the state economy.

Funding in Maryland

Federal Total $ 134,400,000
Forest Legacy Program $ 4,600,000
American Battlefield Protection Program $ 3,000,000
Habitat Conservation (Sec. 6) $ 3,500,000
State Program Total State Grants $ 85,300,000
Total $ 231,800,000

Resources:

Factsheet of Maryland LWCF

2020 Legislative Wrap Up

By Kim Coble, Executive Director

This year’s post-session wrap-up is coming three weeks before it normally would, due to these unprecedented times.  What is normally a recap of what bills did or didn’t pass, this year we need to look at things through a slightly fuzzier lens: what passed, what didn’t pass due to legislative inaction, and what was abruptly discarded due to a public health crisis.

At the time the session was curtailed, Maryland LCV and the environmental community were on track to have a successful legislative session, with strong, ambitious legislation passing in the sectors of transportation, energy, resiliency, water, and agriculture.

Unfortunately, as the coronavirus required us to socially distance ourselves, it also meant many of those bills ended up on the figurative cutting room floor. We are still proud of the progress we made, which sets us up for future success. The groundwork we laid on key issues is essential as we face the global crisis of climate change.

There were literally dozens of bold, visionary bills presented this session, most of which were not passed. Here are some of the highlights:

To see the full legislative summary, go here.

Oysters: One of the clearest victories of the year was to further protect our oysters. The veto of last year’s bill – creating an oyster fisheries management program – was overridden. A corrective bill to fix the dates complicated by the veto’s delay passed both chambers unanimously.

  • HB720-19/SB830-19 (Barve/Elfreth)Natural Resources – Fishery Management Plans – Oysters
  • HB911/SB808 (Gilchrist/Elfreth)Natural Resources – Fishery Management Plans – Oysters

Resiliency: In the face of a public health emergency, the necessity of preparing for emergencies brought on by climate change came into sharper relief.  A bill that gives counties the bonding authority for resiliency projects passed, as did one that allows the Bay Restoration Fund to be used to support similar efforts under limited circumstances.

  • HB78/SB172 (Watson/Hester)Bay Restoration Fund-Authorized Uses
  • HB539/SB457 (Watson/Elfreth)Local Governments – Resilience Authorities – Authorization

Pesticides: After a pitched battle, the General Assembly passed a phase-out ban of Chlorpyrifos – a dangerous pesticide connected to negative health impacts in children.

  • HB229/SB300 (Stein/Lam)Pesticides – Use of Chlorpyrifos – Prohibition

Several bills were blocked by negative votes, departmental opposition, or deliberate legislative inaction:

  • HB432/SB423 (Korman/Zucker)Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act – This bill would have mandated that all future purchases in the state’s transit bus fleets be for electric vehicles.  It passed the House and the Budget and Tax Committee in the Senate, but an abstention in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee gave it an untimely unfavorable vote.
  • HB98/SB168 (Davis/Kelley)Electricity – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Qualifying Biomass: This bill would have removed “black liquor” from the resources receiving subsidies as a clean energy resource as part of Renewable Portfolio Standard. This bill received an unfavorable vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

Transportation: A number of important bills were introduced that would have made considerable progress in our transportation sector by adequately funding existing public transportation systems, and transitioning the entire fleet of state vehicles and buses, as well as private vehicles, to electric. Of these, the bill to adequately fund public transit came the closest to making it through both chambers, passing on a party line vote in the House of Delegates but not receiving a vote in the Senate:

  • HB368/SB424 (Lierman/Zucker):  Transit Safety and Investment Act: Passed house

Energy: Maryland has made great strides in recent years to transform our energy sector from polluting fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy.  The urgency of the climate crisis inspired dozens of bills to address the energy production and use sector.  The three bills that made progress before the abrupt end to session promoted architectural changes to state-owned buildings to reduce energy consumption (and protect birds), required the Public Service Commission to consider climate impacts when approving projects, and updating our state emission reductions goals while offering tangible steps to reach those goals. Each of these received votes in one chamber, but failed to advance in the second due to time-restrictions.

  • HB192/SB299 (Hill/Guzzone-Lam) – Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act: Passed house
  • HB531/SB656 (Charkoudian/Kramer) – Utility Regulation-Consideration of Climate and Labor: Passed senate
  • HB1425/SB926 (Stein/Pinsky) – Climate Solutions Act of 2020:  Passed both senate committees

Resiliency: While we work to lessen the effects of climate change, our state also must move to protect our communities and environment from the crises that we are facing right now. A suite of bills worked to confront these concerns, including one creating a State Resilience Office at the Emergency Management Service and another that created an ombudsman in the Attorney General’s office to facilitate environmental enforcement and transparency of data.

  • HB614/SB460 (Lierman/Elfreth) – Environmental Accountability and Transparency Act: Passed senate
  • SB721 (Hester) – Emergency Management – Chief Resilience Officer – Appointment and Duties: Passed senate

Water: While the oyster legislation was a strong victory for Maryland’s waterways, other bills that would have addressed the health of our waters failed to make it over the finish line, despite a strong start. One, that would have created better systems of licensing for septic system inspectors who are on the front line of preventing septic run-off into our waterways, failed to reach the priority level to move to the floor in the last days.  The other would have banned plastic bags at check-out throughout the state, which moved to the senate floor on the last day of the abbreviated session and failed to make it through second reader.

  • SB254 (Young) – On-site Sewage Disposal Systems – Inspection – Licensing: Passed senate
  • HB209/SB313 (Lierman/Augustine) Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act: Passed house

Thanks to your online advocacy (over 6,000 emails to legislators!), calls to your legislators (almost 250 patch-thru calls!), in person lobby visits, and attending rallies in Annapolis we were able to make the progress we did make. The work you do is essential to protecting our air, land, water, and communities. 

Advancing strong environmental legislation is essential as we face the global crisis of climate change. As the environmental watchdog in Maryland, we will be keeping a close watch over the special session planned for May and we plan to release a 2020 Environmental Scorecard in the coming months.

Thank you for being a conservation voter,

Kim Coble, Maryland LCV
Executive Director

The full legislative summary is here.

Stay connected with us while practicing social distancing:

  
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