The Dernogalizer

April 18, 2009

2009 MD Legislative Wrap-Up

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:07 pm
Tags: ,


because Annapolis is hip

because Annapolis is hip

The 2009 legislative session of Maryland came to a close later in the week.  So how did environmentalists fare in the state during these tough economic times?  I want to provide you with a couple of media articles here and here.  Additionally, I’m going to copy and paste below a comprehensive overview of the environmental bills and how they faired.  This was done by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.  Additionally, Environment Maryland has one additional bill they tracked, which you can view here: search HB 1057




thumb_up.jpgProgram Open Space has long been a top priority for the Governor and the environmental community.  After the Senate proposed drastic cuts to the program, the Governor, buoyed by a strong last-minute grassroots outpouring of support, lobbied hard to keep the funding.  As a result, most of the funds were converted into bonds with approximately $5-7 million of future real estate transfer revenue needed to service them. Ultimately, this is a good result for the Governor, the environmental community, and land preservation efforts.

(SB 554/HB 176
Failed septic systems cause about 7% of the nutrient pollution in the Bay and 20-30% in parts of the Critical Areas, a contributing cause to dead zones.  SB 554/ HB 176 requires that nitrogen removing technology be installed on new septic systems within the Critical Areas. Maryland, by approving this measure with the narrowest of margins (24-23) in the Senate, will now be a national leader in this endeavor.  The Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund will be used to help finance these important upgrades.

The House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed two bills on toxics.  The first banned the use of DECA, a toxic flame retardant found in the plastic casings of televisions; the other banned BPA, a toxic chemical found in baby bottles.  Unfortunately, both bills died in their respective Senate committees.

Other Important Bills:


thumb_up.jpgGlobal Warming Solutions Act (SB 278HB 315)  
priority_button_-_green.pngThis bill is a huge win for the environment. This critical bill cements Maryland’s role as a national leader and will produce tangible benefits for our state – creating new industries in the emerging clean energy economy, reducing long-term costs to consumers and businesses through energy efficiency upgrades, and by creating the programs we need to reduce global warming pollution. 

HB 315/ SB 278 will reduce global warming pollution by 25% below 2006 levels by the year 2020. To pass this bill, Maryland LCV and others from the environmental community spent the latter part of 2008 working with stakeholders from labor and industry to craft a solution that will save Maryland jobs and address global warming.  Continue reading about our work on this bill here.



Smart Growth
The O’Malley Administration introduced several bills that addressed Smart Growth.
Three of them, the reauthorization of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, the authorization of a priority_button_-_green.pngspecial financing mechanism for Transit-Oriented Development, and the statutory fix to the adverse “Terrapin Run” court decision all passed and deserve praise. However, the Governor and the Senate missed an opportunity to truly strengthen our growth laws and to finally hold our officials accountable for poor growth decisions by failing to support strengthening amendments.

If we are serious about these problems, we have to attach consequences to poorly planned development. Most Marylanders say they want stronger state oversight on growth issues, the Governor’s growth bills don’t get us there. Instead, they simply measure how bad the problem has become.  We look forward to working with the Administration to craft a way to retain local control of planning decisions while ensuring that scarce state resources go where good growth should occur.
thumb_up.jpgStanding (HB 1569/SB 1065) Maryland is one of only a handful of states that severely restricts a citizens’ rights in court to challenge bad environmental decisions.  HB 1569/ SB 1065 addresses this problem by granting citizens and nonprofit associations the right to proceed in court where flagrant violations of our basic environmental protections occur.
This idea has for years percolated in and around the committee rooms in Annapolis, never coming even close to the Governor’s desk.  This year, Maryland LCV chose to make this issue a priority and pushed for its passage. Like the global warming bill, this piece of legislation was carefully negotiated with a series of diverse stakeholders who arrived at a win-win solution that grants us our right to a day in court.

priority_button_-_green.pngThe Budget  The severe fiscal downturn has affected every sector of the economy and cast a pall on the legislative session in Annapolis.  The Governor’s initial budget preserved a great deal of the funding for environmental programs with one notable exception – the diversion of $35 million in energy efficiency program funds from the Strategic Energy Investment Fund.  But at the end of the day the environment remained a high priority and the cuts were less severe than they could have been.
Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund – $10 million    Cover crops – $12 million 
Energy Efficiency – two year diversion of $70 million   Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit 
Program Open Space
 – some of the funds were converted to Revenue Bonds which if exercised could cost the program millions of dollars in principle and interest, into the foreseeable future.



thumb_down.jpgDe-Fund the InterCounty Connector (SB 753/HB 27
priority_button_-_green.pngThe Intercounty Connector is the most environmentally damaging and fiscally irresponsible transportation project in Maryland history.  The Maryland LCV has repeatedly supported attempts to defund this $4 billion road.  While we successfully raised the profile of the economic impact of this project, this year’s bill, HB 27, to defund this terrible project died in committee.  
thumb_up.jpgPhosphorous ReductionSB 553HB 609 requires labeling of fertilizer containing phosphorous and prohibits the sale of phosphorous fertilizer in 2010.


thumb_up.jpgEnergy Efficient BuildingsSB 625 requires a strengthening of building codes to make them more energy efficient.

thumb_up.jpgMaryland Organic Farming Pilot ProgramSB 516/HB 449 creates a pilot program using federal funds to encourage farmers to transition toward organic farming practices.

thumb_up.jpgState RecyclingHB 595 and SB 473/HB 1290 require that all public schools and state facilities recycle paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic.

thumb_down.jpgStormwater Management SurchargeSB 672HB 1457 would have required counties to assess their own fee to pay for retrofits. This bill died on the Senate floor.

thumb_up.jpgMercury Switch RemovalHB 1263 compensates and trains automobile recyclers to remove and recycle the mercury switches from cars.

thumb_down.jpgLead PaintHB 1156 would have allowed Baltimore residents who suffered from the effects of lead poisoning to hold the manufacturers accountable. This bill died in the House Judiciary Committee.

thumb_up.jpgNo Net Loss of ForestsSB 666/HB 1291 attempts to maintain the amount of forest cover in Maryland.
thumb_up.jpgPrivate Wastewater Treatment Act of 2009SB 721/HB 1105 prohibits the installation of an individual sewage system for residential use. 
thumb_up.jpgGreen Jobs/ Welfare to WorkSB 992HB 268 creates a pathway for people on welfare to get a job in the emerging clean energy economy.

thumb_down.jpgPesticidesSB 917HB 929 would have required reporting of some pesticides uses to MDA. This bill died in the House committee.

thumb_up.jpgEnvironmental JusticeSB 4SB 47/HB 1057HB 1078 requires industry provide notice to affected communities before receiving a permit. The notice bills passed but the companion bills, which would have required an MDE review before issuing a permit in certain blighted communities, died in the House and Senate committees.

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