The 2018 Maryland Legislative Session Crosses The Wire
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 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.
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