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MHC Legislative Blog

Water/drainage issues on farms can sometimes be related to what neighboring landowners are doing on their land. Click here for interesting information from the University of Maryland Ag Law Blog about rights and responsibilities for controlling water flow over land. 

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The Maryland Geberal Assembly has unanimouly passed HB 965, which will mean that the legendary D.C. International statkes race will return to Laural Park after a hiatus of 22 years. The race will now be known as the Maryland International.Click here for more info from Pressbox.

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The Maryland legislature has passed legislation that would require small businesses to ensure that their employees have some kind of retirement plan. Here is an analysis, courtesy of the Miles & Stockbridge law firm. 

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Here is the MHC Legislative report for the Annapolis legislative session that just ended. This report will also appear in print in the May issue of The Equiery.

Once again, MHC rocked the staid and storied halls of Annapolis by achieving what is generally believed to be the unachievable - defeating a county delegation sponsored, “county courtesy” bill. This time it was House Bill 203, which would have authorized the Department of Natural Resources to allow Sunday hunting for all game mammals and game birds on every Sunday of the respective hunting seasons in Caroline County. As late as the Friday before the end of the session, we weren’t sure we had the votes. But intense lobbying over the weekend produced results! In the evening hours on Monday, the very last day of the 2016 session, the Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs killed the bill by a vote of 7-3. Senators Conway (Baltimore City), Pinsky (Prince Georges), Nathan-Pulliam (Baltimore City and County), Kagan (Montgomery), Rosapepe (Prince Georges and Anne Arundel), Young (Frederick) and Zucker (Montgomery) voted with us. Senators Bates (Carroll and Howard), Salling (Baltimore County) and Waugh (Calvert and St. Mary’s) were against us, and Senator Simonaire (Anne Arundel) abstained.

This achievement was possible through the outstanding coordinated efforts of our professional lobbyist, Frank Boston; our dedicated, all volunteer, Legislative Committee; and our hugely responsive and effective grassroots “team” - the MHC members from Caroline County who took the time to come to Annapolis and testify against the bill (thanks and a big shout out to Christy Clagett, our grassroots “whip” who worked the phones to organize the panel from Caroline County), and to the MHC members from all over the state who responded to our e-blasts and called and emailed their representatives to voice their opposition to the bill.

As mentioned, these county sponsored bills are normally very hard to defeat because the legislators generally want to give deference to an individual county’s initiatives, with the hope of receiving reciprocal consideration when their own county has a bill. Our most successful defense against these “county courtesy” bills is vigilance at the county level itself. When county officials are considering legislative initiatives to send to Annapolis and they hear from their constituents that a proposal is unpopular, that will often be the end of it. If you would be willing to monitor the agenda of your County Council, Commission or other governing body, to alert your fellow equestrians about measures that might affect them, please let us know! We’ll take care of the rest. It will only take a few minutes of your time to check your county’s website periodically and it could make a big difference. If you can help, please contact admin@mdhorsecouncil.org.

This year, however, MHC was not just reactive, we were also proactive on the Sunday hunting issue. In the summer of 2015 MHC convened a group of landowners, hunters, and outdoor recreation users to create a uniform Sunday hunting program during the deer firearms season without closing off land to other users for whole weekends. The result was Senate Bill 1061, introduced by Senator Joan Carter Conway, Chair of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
SB 1061 would allow DNR to authorize Sunday hunting during the deer firearms season in all Maryland counties until 10:30 am but not after. It would replace all the existing and widely varying Sunday deer hunting firearms laws and accomplish the following:
1. Hunters would get more time in the field. Today we have a combined 74 Sundays when the county laws are aggregated. This proposal would allow up to 207 Sunday mornings aggregated across counties.
2. Hunters could be in the field when they want to be. The average deer hunter stays out for a half day. This bill would require that shooting end at 10:30, allowing hunters to track, field dress, and remove deer after that time. Few hunters choose to hunt on Sunday afternoons, due either to the logistics of deer processing on Sunday evenings, or the lure of Sunday football.
3. Riders and other outdoor recreation users would have a time in every county each weekend when they know that the woods and countryside are safe. Clubs, groups, and individuals in counties where all-weekend hunting passed in recent years will have some weekend access restored and be able to resume their activities.

SB 1061 did not move forward in the legislature this year, but MHC plans to continue to work diligently throughout this year to secure a solution to the Sunday hunting issue that is fair and equitable for all users of the outdoors in hunting season.

The fact that HB 203 was the only serious attempt to expand Sunday hunting in the legislature this year is testament to the effectiveness of MHC’s advocacy on this issue in the last few years. (Last year we fought and defeated 7 Sunday hunting bills) MHC is continuing on its trajectory of being an increasingly seasoned, respected and effective advocacy force throughout the state. Our Legislative Committee has broadened into quite a deep bench, bringing a variety of expertise to bear on legislative proposals.

For example, when the legislature was considering legislation (SB614/HB1462) regarding veterinarians’ use of compounded (“made to order”) medications, our team, including an equine vet and an attorney with experience in Food and Drug law, pointed out inconsistencies and deficiencies within the language of the proposed bill, as well as potential conflicts with Federal law. The bill was amended to address our concerns, and passed.

Another bill, SB 722, would have increased penalties for animal cruelty and neglect, something we of course support. But a second section buried in the bill would have made veterinarians criminally liable for failure to report when abuse or neglect is suspected. We saw a number of problems with both the idea and enforcement of that provision. We pointed out our concerns to the Senate Committee on Judicial Proceedings, and the Committee voted against the bill.

Our team members with substantial background in racing testified against HB704, which would have prohibited Off Track Betting at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium (it failed) and in support of the legislation (SB1116/HB815) that would allow Arabian Racing at Fair Hill (it passed).

We also worked closely with Delegate Howard of Anne Arundel County who wants to establish a Maryland Equestrian Day. We gave him suggestions for tweaks to the bill to improve its branding and calendar scheduling. Unfortunately, it did not come out of Committee this year.

All told, during the course of the 3 month session, MHC closely monitored about 40 bills that could have an effect on horse people, their farms, businesses and even their pets. At our weekly conference call throughout the session, we evaluated the new bills that had been introduced during the preceding week that might impact us, discussed and arrived at our position, and determined our lobbying strategy. We testified at a number of hearings, wrote and submitted written testimony on a number of other bills, and took formal positions without testimony on many others. We traveled to Annapolis over and over again to meet with key legislators and county delegations. Our all volunteer army (assisted greatly by our professional lobbyist, Frank Boston and his staff) was a force to be reckoned with, as we weighed in on bills ranging from Soil Conservation and Program Open Space funding, to tax credits for preservation easements, to workplace rules, to deer poaching, and more, including the specific bills discussed in more detail above. A complete summary of all the bills we followed and what action we took on them can be found here: http://www.mdhorsecouncil.org/legislative-blog.
If you have any questions about any of these bills, please let us know. You can get full information about any of them, including their full texts, any amendments, which legislators voted for/against, etc. by going to mgaleg.maryland.gov and typing in the bill number in the “Find legislation by number” box at the top of the home page.

Finally, MHC, in conjunction with the Maryland Horse Industry Board and other horse industry partners hosted our very first MD Horse Industry Day in Annapolis on February 23, 2016. Numerous promotional events, including videotaped interviews with some of Maryland’s horse industry leaders that appeared on centermaryland.com, newspaper coverage, and other forms of outreach achieved broad marketing of the event. The day included a kick-off and issue briefing, press conference, and constituent meetings with over 25 legislators. Hundreds of Marylanders from around the state came to the State’s Capitol to advocate for the industry. All that preceded a terrific happy hour for legislators at the Calvert House in Annapolis. We had a great turnout of MD Senators, Delegates, Cabinet Secretaries and other Hogan Administration officials and horse industry leaders from across the entire spectrum of our diverse industry - all coming together to make the point that Maryland’s horse industry is wide, deep and strong. Next year we are looking forward to an even bigger and better event, and we hope you can join us in making our voice heard to our legislators!


Attached is a chart showing the full list of all bills we worked on or monitored during the Annapolis legislative session that ended on April 11, 2016. If the entry in the Legislative Status column does not end with "Passed," it did not.

Bill Number

Title

Sponsor

Description

Legislative Status

Horse Council Position

HB0020

Calvert County and St. Mary’s County – Archery Hunting – Safety Zone

O'Donnell

Adds Calvert and St. Mary's Counties to jurisdictions requiring a 50 yard safety zone from buildings for archers.

HENVTRN: H-2/17@1pm; 2nd R Passed; SEHEA: H-3/22@1pm; 2nd R Passed

Support No Testimony

HB0169

Carroll County – Turkey Hunting on Private Property – Sundays

Carroll County Delegation

CF: SB219 - Adds Carroll County to list where turkey hunting on Sundays during spring season on private property is allowed. Emergency Bill.

HENTRN: H-2/24@1pm; 2nd R Passed; SEHEA: NHS; 2nd R Passed

Oppose No Testimony

HB0203

Caroline County – Sunday Hunting

Caroline County Delegation

Adds Caroline County to the list of jurisdictions where Sunday hunting on private and public land is permissible during open season.

HENTRN: H-3/4@1pm; 2nd R PWA; SEHEA: H-3/29@1pm<br< a="">> Unfavorable

Oppose with Testimony

HB0276

Income Tax Credit - Preservation and Conservation Easements

Stein

CF: SB137 - Allows members of pass-through entities (S Corp., Partnership, LLC or Business Trust) to claim an income tax credit for easements conveyed to the MD Environmental Trust.

HW&M: H-2/16@1pm; SB&T: H-3/29@1pm; 2nd R Passed

Monitor

HB0321

Anne Arundel County – Archery Hunting – Safety Zone

S. Howard

CF: SB46 - Creates a 50 yard safety zone in Anne Arundel County in cases where the hunter is on elevated structure where point of release is at least 10 feet from ground or if there is a hill or other barrier is between the archer and the structure.

HENVTRN: h-3/2@1pm; 2nd R PWA; SEHEA: NHS; 3rd R Passed

Support No Testimony

HB0401

Labor and Employment – Equal Pay for Equal Work – Revisions

K. Young

CF: SB994 - Creates an Equal Pay Commission; allows commissioner to enter workplace to examine payroll records based on job category; requires employers to list minimum earnings in all employment advertisements, stating whether this is hourly or salary and if overtime is permissible; prohibits prospective employers from obtaining earnings history from previous employers without written consent; establishes civil penalties.  

HECMAT: H-3/1@1pm; Unfavorable

Monitor

HB0410

Natural Resources – Poaching Restitution Act of 2016

O'Donnell

CF: SB266 - Requires convicted poachers to pay restitution based on size and type of animal and to perform community service or in lieu of community service pay between $10,000 to $20,000 as determined by the court.

HENVTRN: H-2/17@1pm; 2nd R PWA; SEHEA: NHS; 3rd R Passed

Support with Testimony

HB0462

State Transfer Tax – Distribution of Revenue

Req. Admin

CF: SB383 - Reduces the amount that the Governor may transfer to the general fund from the state transfer tax.

HAPP:  H-2/23@1pm; 3rd R Passed; SB&T: H-3/24@1pm; FWA; Signed

Support No Testimony

HB0513

Harford County – Sunday Hunting – Deer Bow Hunting Season

Glass

Authorizes Sunday bow hunting last 3 Sundays in October, second Sunday in November and a Sunday in the second half of January as designated by the Department. (HB655/15 - Oppose Testify)

HENVTRN: Withdrawn

Oppose

HB0514

Sunday Hunting – Deer Bow Hunting Season

Glass

Authorizes the hunting deer during bow season on private property on Sundays. (HB414/15 - Oppose Testify Royce e-blasts)

HENVTRN: Withdrawn

Oppose

HB0515

Deer Bow Hunting Season – Private Property – Additional Sunday in January

Glass

Adds an additional Sunday in January as determined by the Department.

HENVTRN: Withdrawn

Oppose

HB0516

Harford County – Archery Hunting – Safety Zone

Glass

Decreases the safety zone from 150 yards to 75 yards in Harford County. (HB387/15 NP)

HENVTRN: H-2/24@1pm; 2md R PWA; SEHEA: H-4/5@1pm>

Support No Testimony

HB0660

General Provisions – Commemorative Days – Equestrian Day

S. Howard

Requires Governor to annually proclaim the day designated for the final race of the Triple Crown as Equestrian Day in Maryland.

HHGO: H-3/15@1pm>

Support with Testimony

HB0815

Horse Racing – Fair Hill – Arabian Breed Racing Authorization

Cecil County Delegation

CF: SB1116 - Authorizes racing for Arabian Breed horses at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.

HW&M: H-3/8@1pm; FWA; SFIN: H-3/31@1pm; 3rd R Passed

Support with Testimony

HB1110

Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund – Allocation of Funds

Frush

CF: SB645 - Ties use of the funds to the 2014 Bay agreement; allocates first $5m annually to soil conservation; of the remainder, 45%  to BayStat; 40% to Dept. Agriculture for nonpoint sources of pollution and gives BayStat the authority to distribute the rest.

HENVTRN: H-3/9@1pm>

Support with 

HB1417

Charles County and St. Mary’s County – Deer Management Permit – Firearms

Morgan

CF: SB401 - Authorizes those in Charles and St. Mary's Counties holding a deer management permit to use a shotgun or rifle to hunt deer all year.

HENVTRN: H-3/11@1pm; Favorable; SEHEA: NHS; 3rd R Passed

Support No Testimony

HB1462

Veterinarians, Pharmacies, and Pharmacists – Dispensing Compounded Preparations for Use by Companion Animals

Bromwell

CF: SB614 - Authorizes vets to dispense compounded nonsterile or sterile preparations for use by a companion animal provided same a provided by a pharmacist.

HENVTRN: H-3/14@1pm; SHEA: NHS; 3rd R Passed

Support with Testimony

HB1464

Program Open Space Trust Fund Act of 2016

Gaines

CF: SB927 - Creates a special fund for Open Space monies that cannot be raided.

HAPP: H-2/23@1pm>

Support No Testimony

HB1511

Caroline County – Deer Management Permit – Firearms

Ghrist

Adds Caroline County to list of Counties who can implement deer management plans and allows rifle hunting all year in all deer management jurisdictions.

HRULES: NHS; Withdrawn

Support No Testimony

HB1586

Crimes Related to Animals – Penalties – Mandatory Reporting

McConkey

CF: SB722 - Increases penalties for crimes related to animals, including prohibition on owning an animal.

HRULES: NHS

Oppose

HB1596

Talbot County – Deer Management Permit – Firearms

Mautz

CF: SB1113 - Allows those holding a deer management permit to shoot them throughout the year.

HRULES: NHS

Support No Testimony

SB0046

Anne Arundel County – Archery Hunting – Safety Zone

Reilly

CF: HB321 - Creates a 50 yard safety zone in Anne Arundel County in cases where the hunter is on elevated structure where point of release is at least 10 feet from ground or if there is a hill or other barrier is between the archer and the structure.

SEHEA: H-2/2@1pm; 2nd R PWA; HENVTRN: H-3/30@1pm; FWA

Support No Testimony

SB0137

Income Tax Credit – Preservation and Conservation Easements

Eckardt

CF: HB276 - Allows members of pass-through entities (S Corp., Partnership, LLC or Business Trust) to claim an income tax credit for easements conveyed to the MD Environmental Trust.

SB&T: 2/3/2016 - 2:00 p.m.; 3rd R Passed; HW&M: H-3/29@1pm; 2nd R PWA

Monitor

SB0219

Carroll County – Turkey Hunting on Private Property – Sundays

Ready

CF: HB169 - Adds Carroll County to list where turkey hunting on Sundays during spring season on private property is allowed. Emergency Bill.

SEHEA: H-2/9@1pm; 2nd R Passed; HENVTRN: H-3/30@1pm; Favorable

Monitor

SB0266

Natural Resources – Poaching Restitution Act of 2016

Salling

CF: HB410 - Requires convicted poachers to pay restitution based on size and type of animal and to perform community service or in lieu of community service pay between $10,000 to $20,000 as determined by the court.

SEHEA: H-2/9@1pm; Special Order; HENTRN: H-3/30@1pm; FWA

Support No Testimony

SB0383

State Transfer Tax – Distribution of Revenue

Req. Admin

CF: HB462 - Reduces the amount that the Governor may transfer to the general fund from the state transfer tax.

SB&T: H-2/24@1pm>

Support with Testimony

SB0401

Charles County and St. Mary’s County – Deer Management Permit – Firearms

Waugh

CF:HB1417 - Authorizes those in Charles and St. Mary's Counties holding a deer management permit to use a shotgun or rifle to hunt deer all year.

SEHEA: H-2/16@1pm; 3rd R Passed; HENVTRN: H-3/30@1pm>

Support No Testimony

SB0614

Veterinarians, Pharmacies, and Pharmacists – Dispensing Compounded Preparations for Use by Companion Animals

Conway

CF: HB1462- Authorizes vets to dispense compounded nonsterile or sterile preparations for use by a companion animal provided same a provided by a pharmacist.

SEHEA: H-2/17@1pm; 3rd R Passed; SEHEA: H-3/30@1pm; 2nd R PWA

Support with Testimony

SB0645

Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund – Allocation of Funds

King

CF: HB1110 - Ties use of the funds to the 2014 Bay agreement; allocates first $5m annually to soil conservation; of the remainder, 45%  to BayStat; 40% to Dept. Agriculture for nonpoint sources of pollution and gives BayStat the authority to distribute the rest.

SEHEA: H-3/1@1pm>

Support with Testimony

SB0722

Crimes Related to Animals – Penalties – Mandatory Reporting

Young

CF: HB1586 - Increases penalties for crimes related to animals, including prohibition on owning an animal.

SJPR: H-3/10@1pm; Unfavorable

Oppose with Testimony

SB0927

Program Open Space Trust Fund Act of 2016

Middleton

CF: HB1464 - Creates a special fund for Open Space monies that cannot be raided.

SB&T: H-3/9@1pm>

Support/No Testimony

SB1061

Natural Resources – Sunday Hunting – Statewide Authorization

Conway

Makes substantive changes to Sunday hunting rules statewide.

SRULES: Unfavorable

Support with Testimony

SB1113

Talbot County – Deer Management Permit – Firearms

Eckardt

CF: HB1596 - Allows those holding a deer management permit to shoot them throughout the year.

SEHEA: H-3/15@1pm; HENVTRN: H-3/30@1pm>

Support No Testimony

SB1116

Horse Racing – Fair Hill – Arabian Breed Racing Authorization

Cecil County Senators

CF: HB815 - Authorizes racing for Arabian Breed horses at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.

SFIN: H-3/22@1pm; FWA; HRULES: NHS; HW&M: H-4/5@1pm>

Support with Testimony

 

 

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