Farm Stewardship Blog

MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT Land and Materials Administration.

 

Dave Mrgich provided an overview of the HB 171and the study topics, discussed the scope of work for the study group, and established how the study group will operate. Study Topic 1: Diversion of organic materials from refuse disposal facilities in the State, including State laws or regulations governing the diversion of organics was addressed at this meeting.

 

Please click here to read the minutes from the HB 171 – Yard Waste, Food Residuals, and Other Organic Materials Diversion and Infrastructure Study.

Our own Jane Thery was there raising the issue of horse manure composting.

• Resource Management Program 1800 Washington Boulevard • Suite 610 • Baltimore Maryland 21230-1719 410-537-3314 • 800-633-6101 x3314 • www.mde.maryland.gov/composting 5-Mar-18 \TTY Users: 800-735-2258 HB 171 – Yard Waste, Food Residuals, and Other Organic Materials Diversion and Infrastructure Study Study Group Meeting January 24, 2018 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Published in Farm Stewardship

 

American Horse Council's Cliff Williamson's Talking Points on ELD-CDL

Annotated Talking Points for CDL-ELD

  • Biosecurity, Welfare and General Health Concerns
  • Industry/Law Enforcement Official (LEO) confusion over applicability
    • Continued DOT delays prove regulator/stakeholder confusion
  • Business disruption as other states offer “free zones” from ELD enforcement
    • Loss of competitive advantage vs opportunity to gain advantage
  • Importance of agricultural friendly policy
  • Outdate, unchanging HOS regulations and weight descriptors
  • Protect LEO from negative public perception
  • Allow stakeholders time to self-identify business requirements
  • Confusing, non-transferable CDL and non-CDL endorsement/designations
  • Cost concerns tied to test requirements, insurance coverage, and equipment

Tennessee Bill to defund ELD enforcement

http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/Billinfo/default.aspx?BillNumber=HB1962&ga=110

            FMCSA Recreational Horse Hauler clarifications

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/non-business-related-transportation-horses

American Horse Council's Cliff Williamson's Talking Points on ELD-CDL

"My name is Cliff Williamson and I am the Director of Health and Regulatory Affairs for the American Horse Council. The American Horse Council was organized in 1969 to represent the horse industry in Washington before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies.  It is a non-profit corporation that represents all segments of the equine industry. Our mission is to advocate for the social, economic and legislative interests of the United States equine industry.

According to the 2017 American Horse Council Economic Impact Study the U.S. equine industry has a direct economic impact of $50 billion annually, with a $122 billion indirect impact on GDP per year. This substantial impact is directly tied to the freedom with which animals can be transported to and from events. This critical aspect of our industry has evolved over the last 30 years to better serve the health and welfare of both the animals being hauled and the drivers responsible for those animals. Part of that evolution includes the very vehicles themselves. Technology has progressed by leaps and bounds, from the wide spread adoption of anti-locking brakes, electronic sensors that can identify obstacles and near-by vehicles, cameras and screens that can display blind spots to the driver, to the width and material makeup of tire and wheels. Unfortunately, the regulations with which these vehicles are regulated have not kept pace with this growth.

The established ELD mandate has started a nationwide conversation regarding the equine industry’s place within the current Commercial Motor Vehicle regulations, specifically concerning the requirements for Commercial Driver’s License compliance. While these regulations are not new, enforcement has remained low, to the point where the public has now consistent knowledge of their expectations for compliance. The common assumption within our industry is that the hauling of freight as the primary purpose of the trip is the first step in needing a CDL. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Over the last few months, both the American Horse Council and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have worked to educate the public as to what is expected of them to be in compliance. This effort has been very effective in relieving the fears of the segments of our industry that readily identify as recreational. We are here today to address the concerns of those who are not so quick to dismiss their activities as a hobby.

The Electronic Logging Device mandate has raised concerns about the potential for the existing Hours of Service regulations to directly interfere with the efforts of our owners and haulers to prioritize the general health, welfare and biosecurity of the specific animals being transported, as well as the overall status of our national herd health. The industry led Equine Disease Communication Center is part of the American Horse Council’s efforts to protect and preserve our animal’s health and biosecurity. I encourage each of you to visit the website equinediseasecc.org and take note of the alerts for contagious disease outbreaks that we report there.   Totals for 2018 alone already include 55 alerts posted reporting on 45 outbreaks/cases in 16 states. They include;

  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis: 2 cases (FL)
  • Equine Herpesvirus: 25 outbreaks (2 in NY, 1 in MD, 4 in VA, 1 in OR, 4 in ID, 4 in

PA, 3 in KY, 2 in OH, 1 in WY, 2 in AZ)

  • Strangles: 12 outbreaks (7 in FL, 1 in CA, 2 in GA, 1 in VA, 1 in MI)
  • Equine Infectious Anemia: 2 cases (TX)
  • Equine Influenza: 2 outbreaks (GA and AZ)

It is critical that our owners and riders are able to quickly by-pass these potential dangerous areas as information is made available to them. Unfortunately the regulations as written do not allow for that kind of flexibility.

There is considerable industry confusion that persists to this day, which undoubtedly is shared by Law Enforcement Officers as well, concerning the applicability of the of both CDL and ELD laws to the equine industry. As such, compliance will continue to be low, and this confusion will continue to have adverse effects on event managers, who will suffer from decreased participation, product manufacturers who will see a drop in consumer purchases, and even to equine enthusiast, which includes nearly 30.5% of U.S. households, as animals are pulled from competitions and exhibitions. This loss to our economic potential will be felt for years to come if this issue is not quickly addressed.

This issue has already mobilized state legislative action to limit the negative effect of these regulations. Tennessee has language in committees on both sides of their legislature to defund ELD enforcement activities, effectively creating a “Free Zone”. This designation will undoubtedly pressure neighboring states to adopt similar language to avoid the loss of their own competitive advantage. Alternatively, some states may proactively join adjoining states in their efforts and create “Free Zone” corridors. These corridors may have far reaching implications the longer this issue remains confusing at the federal level. There are opportunities here for states to publically affirm the importance of the agricultural industry by developing an agricultural “friendly” environment.

The regulations governing the allowable hours of service (HOS) are based on 1937 regulations from the Interstate Commerce Commission. Changes have been made three times since, most notably to the driving window within which individuals are able to utilize their time and the implementation of the “Restart” period. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 defined the portions of the CDL regulations concerning weight ranges for commercial motor vehicles. All of these regulations have failed to adapt to the changing situations that US drivers find themselves in. Due to the non-intuitive nature of these regulations, enforcement has been low for the livestock community. This lack of enforcement history has created an environment of non-compliance which is the basis for the recent uproar from the agricultural community. The public feels the true intent of the regulations that exist were targeted at Long Combined Vehicles (LCV), or a traditional tractor-trailer combination. This segment of the population has decided that this perceived overreach with regard to CMV designation needs to be rectified, which will then cause the ELD issue to go away.

An important point to be made is that a delay in enforcement, followed by a repeal or permanent exemption, is critical to protecting the law enforcement community from the negative public perception of targeting or hindering the local agricultural community. How is the standard law enforcement officer expected to react to an animal welfare situation on the side of the highway, especially if that situation results in the death of said animal? This could be a particularly difficult situation should the cause of the stop or delay to be proven incorrect or the citation to be viewed as inconsequential. We have a responsibility to the state level law enforcement community to provide clarity of purpose, and until such time as those clarifications are available, state governments should provide a way to opt out for their officers.

That time is equally significant to the agricultural community who need to self-identify their own business status. While the clarifications are clear excluding “recreational” equestrians from the CDL regulations, there are still significant concerns for individuals who classify themselves as a business, but could easily revert back to recreational should that option be less restrictive. These decisions are not taken lightly, and with the abrupt nature of the ELD mandate publication, our industry has not had enough time to weigh the implications. Those implications include the time needed to obtain appropriate certification.

Those certifications are a concurrent concern to the industry as well. Disparate state CDL regulations, specifically non-CDL endorsements, confuse inter-state operators and provide false equivalency, “muddying the waters”. While states are able to provide clear descriptors to their citizens, and reciprocity agreements between states do exist, the majority of the public are unaware of the subtle nuances of DOT regulations, and are unaware of how it all connects. Also since the 150 air mile rule allows for inter-state agricultural related commerce to occur without a CDL, how are state officials to know who to detain? Is the intention to detain all out of state drivers? If not, as we can assume to be the case, is there a way to ease concerns of both the agricultural and law enforcement communities? 

In closing, it is important to note that the segment of the livestock industry who are hauling animals in personally owned trailers with their “pickup” style tow unit are in large part exempt from the CDL and ELD regulations under the exemptions that exist today. It is entirely possible that many farm and ranch owners never need fear citation due to a lack of enforcement or an abundance of exemptions. Unfortunately, due to the fluid nature of the agricultural industry, and the critical aspect of travel for the equine sector, more and more people will fall through the cracks. It is incumbent on those with the power to do so to step up and address these individuals who will be forced to operate in this grey area.

I encourage state governments to investigate a possible ELD exemption for the hauling of non-hazardous agricultural commodities. Also use this time to reiterate the livestock designation of the equids within your state. Encourage your state leaders to provide “Covered Farm Vehicle” exemptions from CDL regulations to horse trailers and equine tow vehicles.

Please contact the American Horse Council with any questions or comments."

 

Click here to listen to the Webinar 

Published in News

ACTION ALERT!!!! READ, ACT, AND SHARE NOW!
ATTENTION ALL MARYLAND TRAIL RIDERS & LAND USERS

Your action is needed NOW! BILLS ARE PENDING FOR STATEWIDE, ALL DAY SUNDAY HUNTING IN DEER SEASON.

For almost 20 years, the Maryland Horse Council has worked aggressively to ensure fair use of shared natural resources during deer hunting season, by seeking to preserve Sundays as the one day of the week when hikers, birdwatchers, trail riders and other outdoor enthusiasts could enjoy the outdoors without concern for adverse interactions with hunters. 20 years ago, we successfully fought off various statewide Sunday hunting bills. Some of the recreational hunters changed tactics, going granular, county-by-county. Sometimes they were successful; most of the time, the rest of us were successful. When they were successful, they succeeded in making an already complicated situation more complicated, making it more difficult for others to plan their outings, and for Natural Resources Police to effectively crack down on poachers and irresponsible hunters, which has caused even more negative encounters between irresponsible hunters and other users. 

The Maryland Horse Council has proposed reasonable compromises that would still allow fair use of shared natural resources, by cutting off Sunday deer hunting, where allowed, at 10:30 am. This compromise still gives trail riders and others plenty of Sunday access to trails. This compromise has been embraced by some legislators, who have praised the Horse Council for this reasonable approach.

Now, once again, there is a statewide bill that does nothing to improve the situation for Natural Resources Police and continues to infringe on the fair rights of other users of our shared natural resources in Maryland. 

MHC is not anti-hunting, and many of our members are licensed hunters who support having fair use of shared natural resources during firearm season.

If having safe access to trails or open space on Sundays during hunting season is important to you, we need your help now! Please do one or more of the following:

1) Attend a Hearing

You don’t have to speak – just having your presence will make an impact, and we will make sure you are acknowledged. If you would like to speak, we will sign you up ahead of time (which is required), so please contact the chair of the MHC Legislative Committee, Jane Seigler, at 301-774-3756 or seigler.jane@gmail.com. Please note that the hearings start at 1 p.m. with numerous bills to be discussed. These bills may be heard immediately or not until later in the afternoon and sometimes not until early evening. We cannot predict.


HEARING ON HOUSE VERSION: HB 1338 INSERT LINK: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx…

DATE: Wed. March 7 at 1 p.m.

LOCATION: House Environment & Transportation Committee INSERT LINK http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx…


HEAR ON SENATE VERSION: SB 817 INSERT LINK http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx…

DATE: Tues. March 13 at 1 p.m.

LOCATION: Senate Education, Health & Environment Affairs Committee INSERT LINK http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx…

2) Contact a Legislator

Your calls and emails to these Maryland legislators are critical to killing these bills! Let the legislators know that you are a voting Maryland resident (especially if you reside in their district). If you happen to have a hunting license, let them know that as well! Include your license number! Not all licensed hunters support this bill, so if you are one of them, let the elected officials know! Make sure your letter or email includes the bill number – and remember, this is not about anti-hunting; this is about fair use of shared natural resources!

House Environment & Transportation Committee - HB 1338

Kumar Barve, Chair, kumar.barve@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3990 

Dana Stein, Vice-Chair, dana.stein@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3527

Pamela Beidle pamela.beidle@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3370

Alfred Carr alfred.carr@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3638

Andrew Cassilly Andrew.Cassilly@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3444

Jerry Clark jerry.clark@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3314

Bob Flanagan Bob.Flanagan@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3077

William Folden William.Folden@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3240

David Fraser Hidalgo david.fraser.hidalgo@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3186

Barbara Frush barbara.frush@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3114

Jim Gilchrist jim.gilchrist@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3744

Anne Healey anne.healey@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3961

Marvin Holmes marvin.holmes@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3310

Jay Jacobs jay.jacobs@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3449

Tony Knotts Tony.Knotts@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3212

Stephen Lafferty stephen.lafferty@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3487

Robbyn Lewis robbyn.lewis@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3772

Cory McCray cory.mccray@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3486

Herb McMillan herb.mcmillan@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3211

Charles Otto charles.otto@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3433

Shane Robinson shane.robinson@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3021

William Wivell william.wivell@house.state.md.us (410) 841-3447 


To easily send one email to entire committee, cut and paste email block below:

kumar.barve@house.state.md.us, dana.stein@house.state.md.us, pamela.beidle@house.state.md.us, alfred.carr@house.state.md.us, Andrew.Cassilly@house.state.md.us, jerry.clark@house.state.md.us, Bob.Flanagan@house.state.md.us, William.Folden@house.state.md.us, david.fraser.hidalgo@house.state.md.us, barbara.frush@house.state.md.us, jim.gilchrist@house.state.md.us, anne.healey@house.state.md.us, marvin.holmes@house.state.md.us, jay.jacobs@house.state.md.us, stephen.lafferty@house.state.md.us, robbyn.lewis@house.state.md.us, cory.mccray@house.state.md.us, herb.mcmillan@house.state.md.us, charles.otto@house.state.md.us, shane.robinson@house.state.md.us, william.wivell@house.state.md.us


Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee - SB 817

Joan Carter Conway, Chair, joan.carter.conway@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3145

Paul Pinsky, Vice-Chair, paul.pinsky@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3155

Gail Bates, gail.bates@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3671

Cheryl Kagan, cheryl.kagan@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3671

Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, shirley.nathan.pulliam@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3612

Barbara Robinson, barbara.robinson@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3656

Johnny Ray Salling, Bill Sponsor johnnyray.salling@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3587 

Bryan Simonaire, bryan.simonaire@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3658

Stephen Waugh, steve.waugh@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3673

Ronald Young, ronald.young@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3575

Craig Zucker, craig.zucker@senate.state.md.us, (410) 841-3625


To easily send one email to entire committee, cut and paste email block below:

joan.carter.conway@senate.state.md.us; paul.pinsky@senate.state.md.us; gail.bates@senate.state.md.us; cheryl.kagan@senate.state.md.us; shirley.nathan.pulliam@senate.state.md.us; barbara.robinson@senate.state.md.us; johnnyray.salling@senate.state.md.us; bryan.simonaire@senate.state.md.us; steve.waugh@senate.state.md.us; ronald.young@senate.state.md.us; craig.zucker@senate.state.md.us

Then please call and email your own County Delegates and Senators too and tell them to vote NO on HB 1338 and SB 0817! To find out who represents you in your County go to:

http://mdelect.net

3) Tell Others

Reach out to your riding associations and clubs, but also reach out to other users, such as hikers, bikers, bird watchers – we all need to support each other for fair use of shared resources!

State House | 100 State Circle | Annapolis, MD 21401-1925 410-946-5400 | 301-970-5400 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 5400
MGALEG.MARYLAND.GOV
 
 
 
Published in News

Here are some tax tips for handling farm income, courtesy of the UMD Ag law blog.

Published in Legislative

The flag is up and the race is on!
Maryland Horse Council Legislative Update
March 1, 2018

The flag is up, and we are already halfway through the 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly! So far, over 2,900 bills have left the start box and are now somewhere on course. Most bills will not cross the finish line on April 9th. Most bills are simply “not fit enough” to finish (as in they are just “bad bills,” poorly conceived or executed pieces of legislation, albeit usually well-meaning). Like each of the national teams competing at the Olympics, all are allowed to start, regardless of qualifications. Once having left the start box, each bill must navigate obstacles worthy of any four-star course, from committee to chamber, crossover and back again (for a map of the course, click here http://agrisk.umd.edu/blog/understanding-the-difference-between-a-law-and-a-regulation?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MarylandAgriculturalLawBlog+%28Maryland+Risk+Management+Blog%29). Presumably, only the best and most fit bills will finish the course on April 9th; if the bills then pass the vet check (i.e. are approved by the Governor), they become law; the medal ceremonies (bill signings) will be held throughout May.

Once again, the dedicated volunteers of the Horse Council's Legislative Committee are monitoring the legislative goings on and taking action, as necessary, on behalf of Maryland horse people. Serving on this year’s committee are
Jane Seigler (immediate past president of the MHC, former board member for Potomac Valley Dressage Foundation, founder and former owner of Reddemeade Stables/Equishare, attorney with focus in federal regulatory matters);
Crystal Brumme Pickett (former MHC secretary, founder and former publisher of The Equiery, treasurer for the Maryland Steeplechase Association, jt MFH for Howard County Iron Bridge Hounds);
Jacqui Cowan (Plantation Walking Horses, Chesapeake Walking Horses & Trail Riders of Today);
Jennifer Webster (association manager for the Maryland Association for Wildlife Conservation);
Kim Egan (attorney specializing in federal regulatory matters and a foxchaser);
Christy Clagett (joint MFH for Marlborough Hunt Club; owner of and trainer for Larking Hill Farm, former board member for the Maryland Horse Breeders Association);
Steuart Pittman (former MHC president, current MHC vice president, founder of the Retired Racehorse Project, owner/manager Dodon Farm, candidate for Anne Arundel County Executive);
Joseph S. Michael (Deputy State’s Attorney for Washington County, serves on Wildlife Advisory Commission for Department of Natural Resources, foxhunter, sportsman and farmer);
Royce Herman (former treasurer for MHC, Tuckahoe Equestrian Center and Mounted Cowboy Shooting);
JoAnne Stone (foxhunter, pleasure rider and retired professional for Maryland General Assembly).

As we have in most sessions of the past decade and a half or so, MHC is responding to proposals to expand Sunday deer hunting with firearms, which was, until the early 2000s, prohibited in Maryland. Since that time, various bills have been introduced to allow Sunday deer hunting with firearms in certain counties, and then to expand it once it was initially allowed in those counties. MHC’s position has been that one weekend day per week should be preserved for other stakeholders (horseback riders, walkers, bikers, birdwatchers, etc.) to have quiet and safe enjoyment of the outdoors.

In recent years, most Sunday hunting bills have been focused on a specific county or counties. This year, a much more sweeping bill (SB 817, cross-filed as HB 1338) was introduced, and the vast majority of counties would see a big increase in full day Sunday hunting in both gun and bow seasons under these bills. In other words, this is the statewide, full day Sunday hunting bill that was defeated more than a decade ago.

The House Bill will be heard on Wed. March 7, and the Senate Bill will be heard on Tuesday, March 13. We need your help to fight these bills. If you can come to Annapolis for the afternoon/evening on either date, you can testify about how these bills will affect you. We will walk you through the process. If you don’t wish to testify, we still need you to come and help us “fill the room.” A strong grassroots presence is always impressive to our elected officials, because it means people care. If you are willing to come to Annapolis on March 7 or March 13, contact Jane Seigler at seigler.jane@gmail.com or 301-774-3756.

But there are more bills of interest to MHC than just Sunday Deer Hunting bills, and to date, we have been active on the following:

HB 222/SB 268 Vehicle Laws: Overtaking and Passing Bicycles, Farm Equipment, Farm Tractors, and Animal-Drawn Vehicles
We have filed comments expressing safety concerns, as these bills would allow drivers to cross a double yellow line to pass slower moving vehicles such as bicycles and farm equipment (including horse trailers).

HB 1037/SB 434 Creation of a State Debt: Talisman Therapeutic Riding Farm
We have filed testimony supporting a bond for the Talisman therapeutic riding center on the Eastern Shore – and we would do that for most bond requests for equestrian programs.

HB 7/SB 182 Income Tax Credit: Venison Donations
Our fellow farmers support this, and we have filed a letter to support them and these bills, which would provide a $50 tax credit to offset expenses for venison donated to the Maryland Food Bank or the Maryland Chapter of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

HB 1232 Race Purses & Funding Retired Racehorses
On Wed. Feb. 28, the horse industry worked impressively together to showcase for the House Ways & Means Committee how Maryland is on the leading edge of aftercare and new careers for Thoroughbred racehorses. MHC, along with a host of other equine groups, submitted comments to point out some problems with this bill that would dedicate 1% of purse funds for aftercare of retired racehorses and sanctuary thoroughbreds. While all the horse groups believe this bill is well meaning, it is problematic and ill conceived and urged the committee give it an unfavorable review.

To find out which other bills MHC is monitoring, pick up the NEW March issue of MHC’s Equiery in a tack or feed store near you, or visit equiery.com and click on the digital issue in the upper right hand corner. (MHC Members will receive complimentary copies of The Equiery in the mail.)

To find more information about, or the current status of, any of these bills, to find out who your legislators are and how to contact them, and for more information on how bills are created and move through the legislative process, go to: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frm1st.aspx?tab=home.

Know of a bill you think we should monitor? Let us know! admin@mdhorsecouncil.org

For more information about how to make your voice heard effectively in Annapolis, check out MHC “Grassroots Lobbying Brochure:” http://www.mdhorsecouncil.org/images/grassrootslobbyingflyer2.pdf

Published in Legislative

March 1, 2018

The flag is up, and we already halfway through the 2018 session Maryland General Assembly! So far, over 2,900 bills have left the start box and are now somewhere on course. Most bills will not cross the finish line on April 9th. Most bills are simple “not fit enough” to finish (as in they are just “bad bills,” poorly conceived or executed pieces of legislation, albeit usually well-meaning). Like the Olympics, all are allowed to start, regardless of qualifications. Once having left the start box, each bill must navigate obstacles worthy of any four-star course, from committee to chamber, crossover and back again (for a map of the course, click here. Presumably, only the best and most fit bills will finish the course on April 9th; if the bills then pass the vet check (i.e. are approved by the Governor), they become law; the medal ceremonies (bill signings) will be held throughout May.

Once again, the dedicated volunteers of the Horse Council's Legislative Committee are monitoring the legislative goings on and taking action, as necessary, on behalf of Maryland horse people. Serving on this year’s committee are

  • Jane Seigler (immediate past president of the MHC, former board member for Potomac Valley Dressage Foundation, founder and former owner of Reddemeade Stables/Equishare, attorney with focus in federal regulatory matters);
  • Crystal Brumme Pickett (former MHC secretary, founder and former publisher of The Equiery, treasurer for the Maryland Steeplechase Association, jt MFH for Howard County Iron Bridge Hounds);
  • Jacqui Cowan (Plantation Walking Horses, Chesapeake Walking Horses & Trail Riders of Today);
  • Jennifer Webster (association manager for the Maryland Association for Wildlife Conservation);
  • Kim Egan (attorney specializing in federal regulatory matters and a foxchaser);
  • Christy Clagett (joint MFH for Marlborough Hunt Club; owner of and trainer for Larking Hill Farm, former board member for the Maryland Horse Breeders Association);
  • Steuart Pittman (former MHC president, current MHC vice president, founder of the Retired Racehorse Project, owner/manager Dodon Farm, candidate for Anne Arundel County Executive);
  • Joseph S. Michael (Deputy State’s Attorney for Washington County, serves on Wildlife Advisory Commission for Department of Natural Resources, foxhunter, sportsman and farmer);
  • Royce Herman (former treasurer for MHC, Tuckahoe Equestrian Center and Mounted Cowboy Shooting);
  • JoAnne Stone (foxhunter, pleasure rider and retired professional for Maryland General Assembly).

As we have in most sessions of the past decade and a half or so, MHC is responding to proposals to expand Sunday deer hunting with firearms, which was, until the early 2000s, prohibited in Maryland. Since that time, various bills have been introduced to allow Sunday deer hunting with firearms in certain counties, and then to expand it once it was initially allowed in those counties. MHC’s position has been that one weekend day per week should be preserved for other stakeholders (horseback riders, walkers, bikers, birdwatchers, etc.) to have quiet and safe enjoyment of the outdoors.

In recent years, most Sunday hunting bills have been focused on a specific county or counties. This year, a much more sweeping bill (SB 817, cross-filed as HB 1338) was introduced, and the vast majority of counties would see a big increase in full day Sunday hunting in both gun and bow seasons under these bills. In other words, this is the statewide, full day Sunday hunting bill that was defeated more than a decade ago.

House Bill will be heard on Wed. March 7, and this is an opportunity for our members to personally express their opinion to lawmakers. A strong grassroots presence is always impressive to our elected officials because it means people care.  If you are willing to testify on March 7, email admin@mdhorsecouncil.org

But there are more bills of interest to MHC than just Sunday Deer Hunting bills, and to date, we have been active on the following:

HB 222/SB 268 Vehicle Laws: Overtaking and Passing Bicycles, Farm Equipment, Farm Tractors, and Animal-Drawn Vehicles

We have filed comments expressing safety concerns, as these bills would allow drivers to cross a double yellow line to pass slower moving vehicles such as bicycles and farm equipment (including horse trailers).

HB 1037/SB 434 Creation of a State Debt: Talisman Therapeutic Riding Farm

We have filed testimony supporting a bond for the Talisman therapeutic riding center on the Eastern Shore – and we would do that for most bond requests for equestrian programs.

HB 7/SB 182 Income Tax Credit: Venison Donations

Our fellow farmers support this, and we have filed a letter to support them and these bills, which would provide a $50 tax credit to offset expenses for venison donated to the Maryland Food Bank or the Maryland Chapter of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

HB 1232 Race Purses & Funding Retired Racehorses

On Wed. Feb. 28, the horse industry worked impressively together to showcase for the House Ways & Means Committee how Maryland is on the leading edge of aftercare and new careers for Thoroughbred racehorses.  MHC, along with a host of other equine groups, submitted comments to point out some problems with this bill that would dedicate 1% of purse funds for aftercare of retired racehorses and sanctuary thoroughbreds. While all the horse groups believe this bill is well meaning, it is problematic and ill conceived and urged the committee give it an unfavorable review.  

To find out which other bills MHC is monitoring, pick up the NEW March issue of MHC’s Equiery in a tack or feed store near you, or visit equiery.com and click on the digital issue in the upper right-hand corner. (MHC Members will receive complimentary copies of The Equiery in the mail.)

To find more information about, or the current status of, any of these bills, to find out who your legislators are and how to contact them, and for more information on how bills are created and move through the legislative process, go to: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frm1st.aspx?tab=home.

Know of a bill you think we should monitor? Let us know! Email admin@mdhorsecouncil.org

For more information about how to make your voice heard effectively in Annapolis, check out MHC “Grassroots Lobbying Brochure"

Published in News
Page 2 of 2