Environmental Groups Outline 2016 Legislative and Budget Initiatives

A MyEasternShoreMD article (2016-01-11) reported that the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Preservation Maryland, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation outlined their 2016 legislative and budget initiatives at January 6 preview session in Easton.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC)

ESLC’s priorities included: (1) protecting state and local Program Open Space funding; and (2) funding of the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund.

Josh Hastings, project manager at ESLC, called for putting a lockbox on Program Open Space, to halt legislators from raiding it as they have in recent years to balance the state budget.

Preservation Maryland

Preservation Maryland is also focused on protecting and strengthening funding for land preservation grant programs.

During last year’s session, [Nick Redding of Preservation Maryland] said, the preservation organization community was focused on keeping established what funding it had, because there has been a “precipitous” drop in rural preservation funding.

“Moving forward for ‘16, the goal is to increase overall funding,” Redding said. “A lot of people will tell you, ‘Now is not the time to do that.’ But we’ve gone five years and have seen the vast majority of all of our grant programs slashed to zero dollars.”

Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF)

CBF will be supporting a bill that will require poultry integrators to be responsible for the poultry waste generated on their contract farms. Poultry farms are blamed for generating a significant amount of the phosphorus pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay and local Eastern Shore waterways.

Alan Girard, the Eastern Shore director for [CBF], sought support for a bill that would require poultry companies, such as Perdue, Mountaire and others, to dispose of chicken manure if the chicken farmer or other farms have no use or can’t use it on their fields as fertilizer for crops. …

The bill, which Girard said will arise this year in the legislative session, would grant the chicken farmer first dibs on the manure. If fields are too saturated with phosphorus and it can’t be applied, or another farmer can’t use the manure, the chicken companies, or integrators, would be responsible to transport and dispose of it within one year.

Maryland League of Conservation Voters (MDLCV)

MDLCV will be focused on regulating the use of and educating the public about neonicotinoid pesticides in response to potential health and environmental concerns.

Ben Alexandro, water policy advocate with [MDLCV], said the organization will advocate for a bill that seeks to educate the public on a pesticide recent studies have shown could be dangerous to unborn babies, bees and the Bay. …

Neonicotinoids act as neurotoxins for insects, Alexandro said, but they don’t just effect the insects they’re meant to. Another study indicated they could effect brain development in unborn children, he said. …

The bill would not ban the pesticide outright, but it would try to educate the public and require a permit to sell it and require labeling in stores.

Legislator Response

Maryland Senator Adelaide “Addie” Eckardt also spoke at the preview session and noted that protecting or increasing funding for programs can be challenging when the State is still facing a long-term structural deficit.

Maryland Senator Addie Eckardt (Source: Maryland Manual On-Line)
Maryland Senator Addie Eckardt
(Source: Maryland Manual On-Line)

“When there are more revenues than there have been in the past, everybody comes into my office with more pleas,” Eckardt said. “Everybody wants more funding and new initiatives, and I think that’s going to be the challenge this year with the budget — how do we restrain spending more that would aggravate that structural deficit that we’ve lived with for so many years.”

Useful Links

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Website

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Website

Maryland League of Conservation Voters Website

Preservation Maryland Website