The National Aquarium takes many steps in order to protect the world's aquatic treasures, including lobbying our local, state, and federal governments. For more information on our priorities during the 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly, please contact Sarah Elfreth, Government Affairs Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the legislative process in Maryland here, courtesy of the Department of Legislative Services.
Legislation to Watch
HB 118: Green House Gas Emissions Reductions – Progress Report – Ocean Acidification
Heard on January 29 in the House Environmental Matters Committee.
The bill has been amended to create a task force to analyze the potential effects of ocean acidification on State waters and State fisheries and report back to the General Assembly with recommendations on potential strategies to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification by 2015. The task force will consist of members from the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of the Environment, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the National Aquarium, and representatives from the watermen community, the Senate, and the House of Delegates. National Aquarium staff testified in support
of the bill. Read more about how ocean acidification
is a global issue with local consequences.
Status: HB 118 unanimously passed the House Environmental Matters Committee on February 27. The bill will now go to a vote in the House Economic Matters Committee. If passed by the ECM Committee, the bill will go to the full House next week.
Read the Bill
HB 913 | Food Fish and Shellfish: Labeling and Identification Requirements
Heard on February 26 in the House Environmental Matters Committee
. Requires restaurants and grocery stores to label seafood with the common name of fish or shellfish at the point of sale and prohibits mislabeling. The bill also requires restaurants and grocery stores to identify the origin of a crab product by state or country of origin. The National Aquarium will testify in support of the bill. The National Aquarium will testify in support of the bill. Read more about how the bill will help combat seafood fraud
and benefit the sustainable seafood movement
Status: HB 913 will now be considered by the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the House Environmental Matters Committee.
Read the Bill
Polluted Runoff Bills
Multiple and ongoing hearings.
National Aquarium is a member of the Clean Water, Healthy Families Coalition
, a group of environmental organizations from around the State. The Coalition's legislative priority for 2014 is to defend the 2012 Watershed Protection and Restoration Program law to reduce polluted runoff and clean up local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Multiple bills have been filed to amend or repeal the 2012 law. The National Aquarium team will join other Coalition members to communicate the harmful impacts of polluted runoff on wildlife — or, to put it to a catchy tune: keep the weed killer out of my crab cakes
. Listen to National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and Blue Water Baltimore’s Executive Director Halle Van der Gaag discuss the harmful impacts of polluted runoff
Status: A number of bills to repeal or exempt jurisdictions from the 2012 law have already been voted down in Committee.
Read the Bills
HB 296 | SB 336: Natural Resources – Wildlands – Designation of New Wildlands
Heard on February 4 in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee and February 5 in the House Environmental Matters Committee.
Expands State-designated wildlands from the current 29 areas to 38 areas (or from 44,000 acres to 65,000 acres). One of Governor Martin O'Malley's legislative priorities, the bill seeks to legally protect certain wilderness areas from development, cars, and other impacts. You can read more about the issue in the Baltimore Sun
. National Aquarium supports both bills and submitted written testimony to the committees.
Status: The Senate passed its bill with amendments on February 14, sending the Senate bill to the House. The House bill passed its bill with amendments, sending the House bill to the Senate.
Read the Bills
SB 394: Statewide Container Recycling Refund Program
Heard on February 20 in the Senate Finance Committee.
Establishes a fully refundable 5-cent container deposit on beverage containers sold in Maryland. The bill also establishes redemption centers across the State. The deposit funds a Container Recycling Incentive Fund that implements the program and provides funding for State and local recycling centers, recycling education, and environmental programs. If passed, the bill has the potential to increase Maryland's recycling rate of beverage containers from 22 to 76 percent. National Aquarium supports the bill. National Aquarium submitted written testimony in support
of the bill.
Status: SB 394 is now being considered by the full Senate Finance Committee.
Read the Bill
SB 568: Income Tax Credit – Floating Garden Equipment
SB 707 | HB 718: Community Cleanup and Greening Act of 2014
Heard February 21 and February 25 in respective House and Senate Committees.
Similar to legislation introduced last session, the bill enables county governments to pass county bag-fee laws that require retail and grocery stores to charge customers at least a 5-cent fee for paper and plastic bags. The National Aquarium submitted written testimony in support
of the House bill and will submit written testimony in support of the Senate bill.
Status: SB 707 is now being considered by the Environment Subcommittee in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. HB 718 is being considered by the Environment Subcommittee of the House Environmental Matters Committee.
Read the Bills
The Capital Budget includes $1.5 million for the Aquarium to renovate the Maryland Mountains to the Sea exhibit and associated infrastructure. If signed by the Governor, the Capital Budget funding will go toward a $12 million exhibit focused on the Chesapeake Bay. The National Aquarium team will spend the coming weeks meeting with legislators to ensure that the $1.5 million remains intact. The National Aquarium team will testify in support of the Governor's Capital Budget at the budget hearings on March 10.
Status: The National Aquarium team will testify in support of the Governor's Capital Budget at the budget hearings on March 10.
Learn More About the Capital Budget
The Governor level-funded the State Aided Institution (SAI) portion of the Maryland State Department of Education's budget. The Aquarium will receive $474,601 toward education programs to help bring tens of thousands of Maryland schoolchildren, teachers, and chaperones to the Aquarium completely free of charge.
Status: The National Aquarium team testified in support of the SAI funding before the Senate and will testify before the House on March 3.
Learn More About Education Funding
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