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Yeas and Nays for Pending Legislation
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by Betsy Johnson | 2007

Bills to like and bills to spike are being introduced in the Assembly.

It’s difficult to write about legislation for the newsletter when the legislature is in session because things move rapidly and get out of date very soon. As I write this, many bills are still on the drawing board and have not yet been introduced. 

The good news this year is that global warming is on everyone’s radar—and there are many good bills which address this issue.  We hope that the combination of increased public awareness and the work of our members, other environmental organizations, and our fellow citizens will encourage wide support for these bills by our legislators.

Our Maryland Chapter website, http://maryland.sierraclub.org, has information about legislative priorities, though it won’t give you the most up-to-date information on the status of the bills as they make their way through the legislative process. But you can follow legislation on the Maryland General Assembly website, http://mlis.state.md.us/. 

 Letting your senator and delegates know of your concern for the environment in Maryland is another way for you to act as a good steward of our land, air, and water. It would be helpful if you would contact your legislators and urge them to pass these good bills, and to reject the one bad bill we’ve identified so far. 

 

Bills to support

The Clean Cars Act

SB 51/HB 44—Senator Brian Frosh/Delegate Liz Bobo

Requires that Maryland’s new-car dealers sell cars that meet California’s emission standards, including a standard for carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. It is likely to pass due to support from leadership in the House and Senate and the Governor himself.  The Maryland Sierra Club has designated this bill as its top priority for the session and has been working hard on getting our members in key districts to call their legislators and put pressure on them to vote for the bill.  I expect that this will have been voted on by the time you read this. 

 

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard—Solar Energy

SB 595/HB 1016—Senator Rob Garagiola/Delegate Sue Hecht

Requires that a certain percentage of the renewable energy portfolio  comes from solar installations in the state. Should this bill pass it will give solar power a real boost in Maryland , putting  us on a par with California and New Jersey with respect to solar energy usage.

 

Global Warming Solutions Bill

SB 409/HB 890—Senator Paul Pinsky/Delegate Kumar Barve

Requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and creates an Office of Climate Change within the Department of the Environment.

 

Local Government—Street Lighting Equipment

SB 423/HB 875—Senator Rich Madaleno/Delegate Jane Lawton

Authorizes local governments to purchase street lighting equipment from electric utility companies.  Local jurisdictions providing maintenance for street lights are much more likely to use more efficient lights to control their costs.

 

 

Solar Energy Grant Fund

SB 186/HB 328—Senator Rob Garagiola/Delegate Ann Marie Doory

Creates a dedicated funding source for the Solar Energy Grant Fund. If renewable energy is too expensive, utilities can pay into a fund rather than comply with the percentage requirements of the Renewable Energy Standard (RPS). Currently, the money goes into a Maryland Renewable Energy Fund, which may or may not be used for solar. Probably very little of it would. With this bill, half of  that money would go straight to the Solar Grant Fund.

 

Electric Companies—Energy Efficiency and Conservation Measures and Services

SB 562/HB 631—Senator Brian Frosh/Delegate Brian Feldman

Restores energy efficiency programs for residential utility customers.  Requires that 1% of electricity sales per year comes from energy efficiency.  

 

MD Energy Efficiency Standards Act of 2007

SB 674/HB 909—Senator Paul Pinsky/Delegate Bill Bronrott

Establishes energy-efficiency standards for nine types of electrical products.

Tax General—Income Tax Credit—Energy-Efficient Residential Heating and Cooling Systems

SB 615/HB 595—Senator Rich Madeleno/Delegate Jon Cardin

Establishes tax incentives for installing  energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

 

Solar Energy Grant Program

SB 187/HB 253—Senator Rob Garagiola/Delegate Nancy King

Increases the amount per grant that can be awarded from the Solar Energy Grant Fund. This bill would increase that limit from 20% of a project’s cost to 30%.


Stormwater Management Act of 2007

SB 784/HB 786— Senator Jim Rosapepe /Delegate Jane Lawton

Requires local governments to update zoning ordinances to allow for the implementation of environmental site design techniques in specified stormwater management practices.


Bill to oppose

Environment—Water Appropriation Permits—Groundwater Recharge Area

SB 499—Senator David Brinkley

Will allow water within state parks and preserved lands to be used to calculate water capacity for growth. It is driven by several requests by developers to withdraw waters from state lands. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) failed to develop a policy satisfactory to the public last year.  So now it is being brought by the Senate, in response to applications from Terrapin Run and Wisp, and some Carroll County issues. If it passes, it will change the entire structure of Capacity Management for drinking water and allow  developers to use the lands in state parks and forests to calculate recharge areas for withdrawals.  

> 2007 Table of Contents

   
   

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