Counties Concerned with Constitutional Amendment Proposed on Environmental Rights

On Wednesday, Les Knapp testified in front of the Environment and Transportation in opposition of HB 472 Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights. HB 472 would create a new constitutional right that is vaguely defined within the bill as well as an expansive new class of litigants with broad standing rights to litigate or intervene.

From the MACo Testimony:

This language is both vague and overbroad. It could be argued that many basic services provided by a local government could unreasonably degrade natural resources, including: transportation, water and sewer services, and planning and zoning. There are already adequate legal remedies available to address valid environmental concerns, without creating a new ill- defined, legally enforceable right. Enshrining such indeterminate entitlements into the state constitution invites myriad unintended consequences and unanticipated costs…

…Furthermore, the bill would empower any person to enforce or intervene in any case involving a right created by the bill, against any public or private party. This upsets Maryland’s own well- considered standing requirements that have been developed over decades by the Maryland General Assembly and the Judiciary.

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.