Farm Stewardship Blog
The 2018 Maryland Legislative Session Crosses The Wire
 

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What do you get when you take 90 days + 47 Senators + 141 Delegates + 3,101 Bills? 

You get the 2018 Maryland legislative session! 

 
The Maryland General Assembly convened on Wed. Jan. 10 and adjourned on Monday, April 9 - three months of nail biting high drama! It is not easy to pass legislation, and barely 28% of this year’s bills made it through the process; the system is intentionally deliberative – and that is a good thing, as it helps to avert capriciously enacted laws. 
 
Governor Larry Hogan has until May 28 to sign or veto the 889 bills passed in 2018. 
 
On behalf of horse people and the equine industry, the Maryland Horse Council Legislative Committee reviewed all the bills this session, ultimately monitoring the progress of about 40 bills under a variety of topics, from natural resources to agriculture, from taxes to criminal law. Serving on the committee were president Neil Agate, vice president Steuart Pittman, former president Jane Seigler, former secretary Crystal Brumme Pickett, Christy Clagett, Jennifer Webster, Gale Monahan, Joanne Stone, Joseph Scott Michael, Jacquie Cowan, and Kim Egan Rutter.
 
The committee met weekly via conference call to discuss developments and the progress of bills; developments on bills can happen in committee, on the floor and in back halls. MHC's registered lobbyist, Frank D. Boston, Jr., was a critical resource at all stages. 
 
Members of the committee visited legislators and testified at committee hearings in support of or opposition to some bills of concern. Official MHC Letters in support of or opposition to legislation were crafted and submitted. Members of the equestrian community were encouraged and recruited to attend certain hearings and testify. 
 
Not surprisingly, MHC stared down yet another broad bill that would have expanded Sunday wildlife hunting. For almost 20 years, MHC has lobbied for fair use of shared natural resources, which in essence means retaining some window of firearm-free access to public lands during gunning season, for all non-firearm users of natural resources. Meanwhile, MHC works with the Maryland Farm Bureau and other hunting groups to ensure effective deer management controls, supporting programs such as crop damage permits (allowing farmers to harvest as many deer as possible with the most effective weapons of choice). 
 
Unlike in prior years, however, the scope of this year’s “Sunday Hunting” bill far exceeded expanding opportunities for deer firearms hunters; this year’s bills included broad provisions for bow hunters and waterfowl hunters – not areas in which MHC has developed a policy position. The committee was reluctant to take a policy position on these hunting aspects without greater input from MHC’s membership, and was able to successfully defeat the bills without having to do so. Look for more discussion on this topic before next year’s Maryland General Assembly convenes. Meanwhile, the MHC Legislative Committee is deeply indebted to Frank Boston for his guidance and his critical assistance helping MHC build influential relationships in Annapolis. 
 
Bills which passed and are of interest to our community include:
 
HB 7 & HB 119: Supporting Programs That Support Effective Deer Harvesting -Venison Tax Credit
 
MHC is actively supportive of effective deer harvesting programs and likewise supportive of shared use of natural resources, which usually means limiting recreational deer hunting with firearms in favor of more effective methods. HB 7 provides a $50 tax credit to offset expenses associated with processing venison for food banks and HB 119 allows holders of crop damage permits in Calvert County to hunt deer with firearms throughout the year (in some counties, farmers are restricted to the weapon in season, which is not the most effective means of reducing deer herds). 
 
 
This bill expands the exemption from inheritance tax for land that is in certain types of perpetual conservation easements to include nieces and nephews of the deceased. 
 
 
This allows a judge, as a condition of sentencing, to prohibit a defendant convicted of certain crimes relating to cruelty against animals from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal for a specified period of time.
 
 
This bill will enter Maryland into the Interstate Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Standards Compact, to facilitate joint action to create more uniform and effective breed specific rules on the permitted and prohibited use of drugs and medications for the welfare of the horse. It also establishes an Interstate Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Standards Compact Commission to administer the Compact, and provides for the composition, voting procedures, operation, and powers and duties of the Commission.
 
 
Altering the amount available for a purse for the Maryland International Thoroughbred race by specifying the amount is up to $500,000; specifying that the Maryland International is a graded stakes race; authorizing the Maryland International to continue to be conducted after June 30, 2019; requiring that certain money distributed to the Racing Special Fund and paid for certain purposes remain available for those purposes and may not be used for any other purpose, etc.
 
 
Passed as a task force only to study altering the reforestation ratio in a priority retention area to a ratio of 1:1; requiring developers to retain priority retention areas in an undisturbed condition unless the permit applicant has provided certain written justification. The Task Force is required to develop findings and recommendations regarding forest conservation in Maryland and to report to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 1, 2018, and is authorized consult with the Chesapeake Bay Program, the U.S. Forest Service, and certain governmental entities and academic institutions. 
 
 
This bill requires that each licensed owner and trainer to be a member of the Maryland Jockey Injury Compensation Fund; it also closed a loophole by adding trainers to the definition of employer.
 
 
This bill clarifies that the term “children” applies also to step-children for the release of a lot from ag easement restrictions.
 
Maryland Horse Council works hard for you! Join today to make sure your voice is heard, and help us get ready for 2019!
Published in Legislative

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Thank you, members of the horse community, we have a wonderful response to the Survey and are looking forward to what the results will reveal about how we can better help the Horse Community.

 

Please check back for more details and results.

 

Thank you!

 

Maryland Horse Council!

 

Anne

 

 
 
 
Published in News

The Maryland legislature took action to maintain current levels of the estate tax, decoupling it from recent federal increases in threshholds. Click here for more info.

Published in Legislative
April 4, 2018

Meet METS

 

What is METS?  Check out our new website! mdequinetransition.org

Join us at one of six regional meetings to learn why the Maryland Equine Transition Service is a win-win for horses, your equine business, and the horse industry.

CLICK HERE to REGISTER for one of the following dates:MHC METS Logo Circle

May 16, 2018   Frederick Co. Extension (10am)
                          330 Montevue Lane
                          Frederick, MD 21702

May 23, 2018  SMADC, Hughesville (10am)
                        15045 Burnt Store Rd,
                        Hughesville, MD 20637

May 29, 2018   Laurel Race Track (5pm)
                         198 Laurel Race Track Road,
                         Laurel, MD 20725

May 31, 2018   Tuckahoe Equestrian Center (10am)
                         619 Crouse Mill Rd,
                          Queen Anne, MD 21657

June 4, 2018    Baltimore Co. Ag Center (10am)
                         1114 Shawan Rd,
                         Cockeysville, MD 21030

June 5, 2018    MD Dept. of Ag, Annapolis (10am)
                         50 Harry S. Truman Pkwy 
                          Annapolis, MD 21401

METS is a statewide equine safety net initiative of the Maryland Horse Council that provides alternatives for horses needing homes by helping owners identify and select the best transition options. Meet METS sessions are for any equine professional who is interested in the welfare of Maryland horses. 

We will present a short description of the program’s history and goals as well as plans for the next two years. More importantly, we want to answer your questions and listen to your concerns, ideas, and feedback.  Our aim is to engage the entire equine community, from horse owners to industry leaders. 

Together, we can keep horses out of the slaughter pipeline.  Register today!                                         

Get Answers to These Questions and More at Meet METS!      

  • Why does Maryland need METS?
  • Who can join the METS Network and what are the benefits?
  • What do horses in transition look like?
  • How will Network members help horses in transition?
  • How much does it cost to help a METS horse?
  • How is METS different than MD rescues?
  • Why should industry professionals get involved?

 CLICK HERE to REGISTER

If you have questions about Meet METS or becoming a Network member,
or if you have a horse in need of transition, contact Brittney Carow at Director@mdequinetransition.org.

Published in News

As we integrate the Equiery and Horse Council, it is the right time to focus on our future as a combined
organization and so have begun the process of updating our strategic plan.
 
We are collecting relevant industry studies and will survey MHC members and non-members over the
next two months.  A Strategic Planning workgroup will convene for meetings June through August and
work with a facilitator to develop the plan.

Keep your eyes out for the surveys, and please share the links with your colleagues, clients, and friends.
We need responses from all segments of the industry to ensure we are creating a plan representative of
everyone the Horse Council serves.

MHC StrategicPlan

The MHC completed its last strategic plan in 2009 and met almost every goal it set out to achieve. With changes in the industry and the legislature over the past decade, however, as well as internal changes with the acquisition of the Equiery and MHC’s Go Pro initiative, it is time to once again to take a hard look at where were are as an organization and where we want to go.

The goal of strategic planning is not only to end up with a written document, but to engage the MHC’s leadership, membership, and key stakeholders in a planning process. Benefits of the process include:

  • Writing goals and objectives that are mission-driven, responsive to external factors, and realistic based on MHC’s organizational capacity and resources
  • Ensuring most effective use of MHC’s resources by prioritizing goals while remaining open to change
  • Building a sense of ownership and commitment through consensus building
  • Developing and communicating specific messages, and
  • Creating a baseline from which to measure future progress

The process, which began in March, will take approximately nine months resulting in a new plan to be ratified by the Board at the quarterly meeting in November.

Strategic plans are most useful when based on accurate and relevant information. Many factors will influence the direction and goals of the Maryland Horse Council. Therefore, we will review industry participation trends, the political climate in Annapolis, member and non-member perceptions of the MHC, sample plans from similar industry organizations, other related documents. We will also review key internal indicators to determine the rate and direction of MHC’s progress over the past several years.

MHC’s Executive Committee has set the goals and parameters for the planning process and we are engaging a diverse group of industry representatives to participate. This Strategic Planning Workgroup will convene for meetings June through August and work with a facilitator to develop the plan.

Perspectives of current MHC members, non-member horse owners, and equine industry professionals are critical to our success.  We need your input.

Keep your eyes out for the MHC survey over the next several weeks, and please share the links with your colleagues, clients, and friends.  We need responses from all segments of the industry to ensure we are creating a plan representative of everyone the Horse Council serves. 

 

Published in News
Jane Thery, Chair
 
In representation of the Maryland Horse Council, I participated in two meetings of the Study Group established by Maryland House Bill 171- Department of the Environment (MDE)- Yard Waste, Food Residuals, and Other Organic Materials Diversion and Infrastructure.
 
The MDE Study Group will produce a preliminary report of recommendations this year and a final report next year.  The food waste community promoted this Study to reduce volume in landfills and recycle food waste via composting. The importance of representation of the horse community is to assure that new state rules and regulations on composting are user-friendly to horse farms. 
 
My interventions in the first meeting included simplifying rules for on-farm composting, promoting traditional and new-technology composting via technical and financial assistance and increasing the number of composting facilities.  After the first meeting, I received a call from MDE and provided additional information on the number of horses and manure management practices.  
 
In the second meeting, the most interesting discussion was on how to increase the marketability of compost to generate final product value. This would include use by state and county parks and landscaping operations as well as private sales. For complete information on the Study Group agenda, reports and recommendations, see www.mde.maryland.gov/composting 
 
Plans are afoot this year to revise the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) with the Association of Soil Conservation Districts and to host an MHC Farm Stewardship educational and fun field day. New ideas and volunteers are always welcome!  
 
Contact information: Jane Thery; theryjane@gmail.com202-527-2145
Published in Farm Stewardship

There will be a hearing on Thursday, April 12 at 1:30 PM, in Rm 205 of the Jefferson Bldg, 105 W Chesapeake Ave, Towson, to determine if a special exception should be granted to allow solar panels on about 13 acres of farmable land at 14503 Green Rd in Baldwin (the original proposal requested panels on about 160 acres). The hearing will be before John Beverungen, Administrative Law Judge. The Zoning petition is Case#2017-0344 X. Members of the public who wish to support or oppose the project may testify at the hearing. For more information, contact Baltimore County Zoning: 410-887-3391.

The company is proposing the project is Bluefin Origination (Cypress Creek Renewables), 8203 Ventnor Road, Pasadena, MD 21122.

The attorney for those opposing the project is Michael McCann, 410-825-2150, Michael@mmcannlaw.net.

Published in Legislative