The 2014 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly Has Begun
The Sierra Club's Legislative Committee monitors the legislation introduced throughout the Session and may organize lobbying efforts (see Take Action Now) for those bills that are especially crucial to the environment. Members are invited to participate in weekly teleconferences (usually scheduled for Thursday nights) on upcoming legislation. Contact the Chair of the Legislative Committee, Dori Paster, at doreen.paster[@]mdsierra.org to join the call or learn more.
Our priorities for 2014 are the following House Bills (HB) and Senate Bills (SB):
- increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 40% by 2025 ("Cleaner Power, Brighter Maryland"); Sponsor: Delegates Barnes and Olszewski; SUPPORT HB 1149. "Cleaner Power, Brighter Maryland"; Sponsor: Senators Feldman, Madaleno, and Pinsky; SUPPORT SB 733, 734. Committee Hearing: March 4, 1 p.m. in Finance
- removing burning paper mill waste (black liquor) from the list of qualified renewables ("Cleaner Power, Brighter Maryland", "Renewable Portfolio Standard Qualifying Biomass"): Sponsor: Delegates Barnes and Olszewski; Support HB 747. Committee Hearing: February 20, 1 p.m. in Economic Matters
- reducing barriers to investment in shared solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects ("Community Renewable Energy"): SUPPORT SB786/HB1192.
- extending the fracking moratorium until risks are analyzed and decision criteria are in law ("Shale Gas Drilling Safety Review Act"); Sponsor: Delegate Mizeur; SUPPORT HB 1122. Committee Hearing: February 28, 1 p.m. "Shale Gas Drilling Safety Review Act"; Sponsor: Senator Young; SUPPORT SB 745. Committee Hearing: February 25, 1 pm
2. Clean Water
Defending the Polluted Water Law (the contaminated runoff (stormwater) fee); Sponsor: Delegates Bates, Krebs, McDonough, Norman, and Schuh. OPPOSE HB 50, HB 55, HB 97, HB 155, HB 324, HB 895. Hearing: February 26, 1 p.m. in Environmental Matters. Defending the Polluted Water Law; Sponsor: Senators Brinkley, Glassman, Hershey, Jennings, Kittleman, Simonaire, and Stone. OPPOSE SB 5, SB 135, SB 277, SB 315, SB 316, SB 317, SB 318, SB 359, SB 464, and SB 903. SB 464 Committee Hearing: March 11, 1 p.m. in Education Health and Environmental Affairs. SB 903 Committee Hearing: March 11, 1 p.m. in Budget & Taxation.
3. Requiring reporting on pesticide use on farms and by certified applicators. (See create state pesticide reporting database.)
4. Enabling counties to place fees on single use bags that litter our streets and waterways "Community Clean Up and Greening Act", "Authority to Impose Fees for Use of Disposable Bags"). (See fees on disposable bags for more information.)
5. Increasing the size and number of Maryland's Wildlands ("Designation of New Wildlands"). (See Maryland's Wildlands.)
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.