The 2015 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly Has Begun
The Sierra Club's Legislative Committee works to pass progressive environmental legislation in Maryland. We have identified our priorities for this session -- those bills that are especially critical to the environment -- and are organizing efforts to promote them. In addition, we monitor legislation introduced throughout the Session and may organize additional lobbying efforts. Check out our Take Action Now page for how you can help on specific bills, or contact the Chair of the Legislative Committee, Doreen Cantor Paster, at doreen.paster [@] mdsierra.org to learn more.
Our priorities for 2015 are to:
1. Address climate change by increasing clean renewable energy in Maryland and decreasing dirty energy from incineration.
- Increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 40% by 2025. (Fact sheet)
- Ensure that the RPS promotes only clean sources like wind and solar energy, and does not incentivize energy from dirty incineration-based sources. (Fact sheet)
- Encourage community renewable energy by eliminating barriers to community-based (school, apartment building, open field, etc.) solar and wind energy projects. (Fact sheet)
- Encourage energy efficiency and right-to-know by establishing an energy benchmarking and disclosure right-to-know program for commercial buildings. (Fact sheet)
- Protect Maryland from health risks from fracking by extending the moratorium until a complete suite of fully-protective regulations are in place (ban on public lands and within certain distances of sensitive receptors, transport/disposal, public disclosure of chemicals, monitoring, etc.). (Fact sheet)
2. Support a clean and economically-vibrant Chesapeake Bay.
- Continue to defend the Bay from pollution from contaminated run-off due to impermeable (paved) surfaces.
- Protect and enhance the Bay, by reducing manure pollution from industrial agricultural operations. (Fact sheet)
3. Protect honeybees by banning the use of neonicotinoids (honeybee-killing pesticides) except for certified applicators, and requiring labelling of plants grown with neonicotinoids. (Fact sheet)
4. Increase health protection equity for Maryland’s most vulnerable and overburdened citizens by increasing awareness and consideration of cumulative environmental risks.
The Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly lasts for 90 days, from mid-January to April, and is an exciting and fast-paced time for environmental policy making.
The Legislative Committee meets regularly prior to the start of the session, reviewing environmental legislative successes of other states, and planning effective strategies for supporting or opposing bills that will come before the legislature. Once the session begins, each member of the Legislative Committee is given a designated number of bills which they are responsible for reading and summarizing. The Committee then makes recommendations to the Chapter regarding our priorities for the session.
Throughout the session, Committee members write and deliver testimony on bills, attend hearings, lobby in Annapolis, and communicate their progress with the Committee. The Committee meets for a conference call weekly to review bills, determine support, and delegate responsibilities. The Committee may also help plan lobby nights and help organize Sierra Club member meetings with legislators.
The Sierra Club needs people like you to help us achieve success in Annapolis and to help protect the environment. There are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved in the work of the Legislative Committee. Expertise on a particular issue is helpful, but the only requirement is some time and enthusiasm.
If you would like to find out how you can help with these efforts throughout the year or during the Legislative Session, please call us at 301-277-7111.