Category Archives: Biodiversity & Habitats

MD General Assembly 2020 Wrap Up

MD Senate Offices. Photo Credit: ANS (2020).

Dear ANS Friends,

The 2020 Maryland General Assembly session adjourned early on March 18th, 2020 due to Covid-19. Originally, the Assembly would have ended on April 6th. There is a possibility that the Assembly will reconvene in late May. Many of the bills we were supporting were making great progress this session but unfortunately at the end just ran out of time to make it through to final vote. I wanted to personally thank you all for supporting ANS and  our partnering organizations this year’s General Assembly. Thank you for fighting for a healthier and more sustainable Maryland by supporting bills in areas such as transit, climate change, education, and  protection of our Bay. Thank you for coming to rallies, testifying, writing comment letters, and keeping up to date with General Assembly updates via our Action Alerts and Blog Posts. The fight is not over, we will be back better and stronger!

Here is a summary of the bills ANS supported and their final status.

Thank you all,

Denisse

 

Win

Win (HB911SB808) -  Oyster Recovery 

Our Chesapeake Bay's oyster sanctuaries will be restored and protected!

 

Win (HB229SB300) - Pesticides – Use of Chlorpyrifos – Prohibition

At last the harmful Chloropyrifos are finally banned in MD!

 

Loss

Loss (HB368SB424) - The Transit and Investment Act / MTA Funding Bill 

This bill would have provided an increases funding of $123 million for MTA to run and operate its transportation system for the next 6 years. Currently, MTA is facing a $2 billion budget shortfall for the next decade as revealed in the agency’s 2019 Capital Needs Inventory.  ANS  provided testimony to both house and senate hearings  and attend rallies. This bill passed the house but not the senate.

 

Loss (HB1465SB955) - Federal Clean Water Act - Authority of State

This bill would have prevented Maryland from waiving a Water Quality Certification for the Conowingo Dam 50-year federal license. ANS signed on to Waterkeepers Chesapeake support letter on SB955. This bill did not pass committee.

 

Loss (HB1543SB912) - Environment- Climate Crisis and Education Act (CCEA) 

This bill would have placed a fee on fossil fuels entering the state to fund climate education via the Kirwan Fund  as well as fund green infrastructure projects to mitigate the effects of climate change. CCEA would have created a fund to help for low income households transition into a green economy. ANS provided written testimony to both house and senate hearings. The bill only had house and senate hearings but did not pass committees.

 

Loss (HB292, SB229) - Toll Roads, Highways and Bridges – County Government Consent Requirement Expansion

The county consent bill would have prohibited any toll, highway or bridge project to continue without the consent of the majority of Maryland eastern-shore counties (but which could be extended to other counties in MD). ANS as part of MAST Collation submitted testimony in support of County Consent Bill. This bill did not pass committee.

 

Loss (HB1424) - Public- Private- Partnerships- Process and Oversight

The bill would have provided oversight on P3 contracts by assuring the Board of Public Works would wait on the release of the environmental impact statement before moving forward with soliciting contractors. The bill passed the house but not the senate (Same as in 2019 - Read our 2019 General Assembly Blog Post).

 

Loss (HB192SB299) - Maryland Sustainable Buildings Act of 2020

Last year’s legislative session passed the Energy-efficient and Bird-safe Building Standards bill but had amendments that weren’t reconciled in time to go into effect.  This year the new reconciled bill was seeking support for passage. This bill passed the house but not the senate.

 

Loss (HB209SB313)- Plastics and Packaging Reduction Act 

This bill would have placed a statewide ban on all plastic bags. This bill passed the house but not the senate.

 

Loss (HB1526) - Transportation Carbon Reduction Fund Act  

The TCI Bill seeks to implement an equitable and inclusive, transit orientated mechanism to closely monitor and prepare the funds distribution of fund received for by MD from the Regional Transportation Climate Initiative.This bill did not pass committee.

 

Loss (HB438SB560) - Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Eligible Sources 

This bill would have removed incinerators from receiving subsidies as clean energy sources. This bill did not pass committee.

 

Past posts about this year's MD General Assembly:

2020 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Priorities Blog Post.

ANS submits testimony on MD Transit Safety & Investment Act (MTA Bill)

ANS submits testimony on Climate Crisis and Education Act (CCEA) 

ANS as part of MAST Collation submits testimony in support of County Consent Bill

ANS signed on to Waterkeepers Chesapeake support letter on SB955

ANS Action Alert to support Transit and Environmental Bills in 2020 General Assembly

ANS Goes to Capitol Hill!

An image of the U.S. Capitol Building from the bottom of its steps. The sky behind the building's dome is clear and blue.

The U.S. Capitol Building. Home of the Senate and House of Representatives chambers.

On March 4th, ANS joined more than 100 other environmental advocates for the Choose Clean Water Coalition’s 8th annual Chesapeake Bay Day on Capitol Hill. Lisa Alexander, ANS’s Executive Director, is co-chair of the steering committee for the Coalition, which has members from more than 250 organizations throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed’s 6 states plus D.C. Every year, this day is a chance for us to talk with our elected officials and ask that the health of the Chesapeake Bay remain a priority for the region.

ANS’s Conservation Team met with the offices of 12 different members of Congress from Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia:

  • Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC)
  • Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA)
  • Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA)
  • Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD)
  • Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
  • Congressman David Trone (D-MD)
  • Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD)
  • Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-VA)

This year, we had 5 specific asks of Congress. Each of these asks directly impacts ANS and the people we serve throughout the DMV:

  1. Funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program: This regional program, a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, other federal agencies, states, academic institutions, local governments, and environmental organizations, has been extremely successful in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay. We asked for support in increasing funding for the program from $85 million in fiscal year 2020 to $90.5 million in fiscal year 2021. A grant through the Chesapeake Bay Program helped ANS access technical assistance to plan for Woodend Sanctuary’s stream restoration!                                                                                                                                                                  
  2. Funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund: This loan program, run through the EPA, helps fund high-priority water infrastructure projects throughout the country such as wastewater treatment plants or green infrastructure installation. Over 1,700 Chesapeake Bay Watershed local governments rely on this funding for infrastructure projects that help them meet their mandates under the Clean Water Act. We asked for support in doubling the Fund from $1.68 billion in fiscal year 2020 to $3.4 billion in fiscal year 2021. Millions of dollars from the Fund go to Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia each year.
  3. Funding for the Farm Bill: This overarching piece of agriculture and food policy in the U.S. is reconsidered for authorization every 5 years, with the most recent version passed in 2018. It includes funding for many conservation and environmental programs including the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, and Conservation Technical Assistance, while also funding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). We highlighted this program’s ongoing value and asked that each of these programs benefiting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed be fully funded for each fiscal year that the Farm Bill authorizes.
  4. Passage of America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act: We asked members of Congress to help pass this bipartisan legislative package that contains reauthorization and funding for crucial conservation programs. These include reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Trails Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense (WILD) Act.
  5. Reauthorization of NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office: This office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducts habitat science, oyster restorations, environmental literacy programs, climate resiliency, and sustainable fisheries work. We asked members of the House of Representatives to reauthorize this office and increase its funding. ANS has received grants from this office’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program to offer Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE) to the youth we work with.

Everyone we met with has been a supporter of all these programs for many years. Lobby day is a chance for us to ask for continued support and to thank them for their work to protect the environment for future generations of people and wildlife. We’ll keep you updated on these legislative priorities and their progress in Congress!