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January 20, 2022

Advocacy Priorities for 2022

2022 MD Legislative Session Overview

A number of important and interesting pieces of legislation are coming up in this year’s general assembly session. Already, just one week in to the 90 day session, Arundel Rivers will be working on at least four bills, and tracking several more.

The bills Arundel Rivers will work on this session (so far) include one filed by two of Annapolis’ own representatives, Delegate Dana Jones and Senator Sarah Elfreth, (SB7/HB15) that would require the Department of Agriculture to identify invasive plants as tier 1 or 2 invasives, depending on the danger the plants pose to the environment. Once classified, the bill prohibits use of invasive plants in outdoor applications by state or state-funded entities.

House Bill 135 provides that after January 1, 2023, a food service business may not provide containers, utensils, straws, lids, lid stoppers, stirrers made with plastic or paper w/ plastic coating. Violations of this bill will carry penalties of $500 for a first offense and escalate to $1000 and $2000 for subsequent offenses. The bill also provides exceptions for people with a medical need for drinking straws.

Call To Action!

To anyone that supports either of these bills, please write to your legislators and ask for their support. If you would like to testify on either of them, please reach out to your Riverkeeper, for the details on how to do that at [email protected]. Find your legislators here.

Two additional bills have not yet made it out of drafting but will be introduced soon. One provides for increased oversight and enforcement of discharge permits that have been administratively extended beyond their original expiration, and also permits in significant non-compliance with stated effluent limits. This bill has grown out of a growing number of permits that are expired or in significant non-compliance over the past several years as the budget for the Department of Environment has shrunk.

Additionally, Senator Elfreth will be introducing an oyster bill focused largely on funding, specifically on increasing spat, shell, and substrate resources. The substance of this legislation has been informed by the deliberations of the Oyster Advisory Commission, where our own Riverkeeper Jesse Iliff has a seat.

We are also going to track bills related to ensuring well water safety, standardizing septic system requirements across the State, and increasing the Department of Environment’s enforcement power. Of course, the deadline for introducing legislation (good or bad) is still a way off, and things can always change as new legislation is introduced or existing bills get shelved. So, stay tuned as we wind our way through the legislative session—it’s going to be an interesting one!