Greetings from the Legislative Committee!
We wanted to share a brief update with members on the most recent legislative session that wrapped up about three weeks early, in mid-March, due to COVID-19.
Approximately 3,000 bills were introduced during that session, and MD-ASLA’s lobbyist Jack Neil has been helping us track their status as they move through both legislative chambers. A number of bills that failed to pass due to the early adjournment will be reviewed again in a special legislative session to be held in mid-May. It is anticipated that additional legislation and budget items addressing the impacts of COVID-19, as well as probable additional supports for the state economy, will be reviewed then as well.
Below are a few critical items we’d like to bring to your attention:
· The Maryland General Assembly passed Senate Bill (SB) 300, announcing that use of chlorpyrifos will be phased out of the State by the end of this year, for at least the next four years. The Legislative Committee is requesting that chapter members reach out to the office of Governor Larry Hogan requesting his signature on a permanent ban of this agricultural chemical, via the contact form provided in this link: https://governor.maryland.gov/contact-the-governor/
· Given the recent legislative defeat of the House Bill (HB) 1628 sales tax and use tax extension that would have impacted landscape architectural services, the Legislative Committee is seeking ideas from members on developing a ‘white paper’ discussing the economic impacts for design/built environment and taxes paid (direct/indirect) by our profession. Please email Heidi Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your thoughts!
· According to the Governor’s Executive Order, all licenses, permits, registrations, and other authorizations issued by the State, its agencies, or any political subdivision that would expire during the current state of emergency will be extended until at least the 30th day after the state of emergency is lifted.
· The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (O&P) is temporarily extending license expiration dates until May 1st, which is subject to being extended as the response to the coronavirus situation evolves. They can be contacted by emailing DLOPLBoardofExaminersofLandscapeArchitects-LABOR@maryland.gov.
· Landscape architecture advocacy events such as the site visits being planned for Senator Van Hollen and other local legislators have been postponed until fall of 2020.
We’d also like to highlight a few bills of the several dozen on our shortlist that we’ve been tracking as they’ve moved through the legislative chambers; please contact Heidi Thomas at email@example.com if you’d like a copy of the full list:
Capital Project Opportunities –
· SB 1 Built to Learn Act of 2020 (Passed): Authorizes the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) to issue up to $2.2 billion in revenue bonds, backed by annual payments from the Education Trust Fund (ETF) beginning in FY 2022 that phase up to $125 million annually by FY 2024, for public school construction projects in the state, including to support a possible public-private partnership (P3) agreement for Prince George’s County.
Environmental Matters –
· HB 78/SB 172 Bay Restoration Fund – Authorized Use (Passed): Expands the criteria used to determine how to allocate funding from the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) Wastewater Account by including climate resiliency and flood control as issues for the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to consider when determining the priority of funding for specified projects.
· HB 203 Community Parks and Playgrounds Program Expansion – Baltimore County and Howard County: Expands the purpose of the Community Parks and Playgrounds Program to include making flexible grants available to the governing bodies of Baltimore County and Howard County.
· HB 279 Real Property – Restriction on Use – Low-Impact Landscaping: Prohibits specified restrictions on use from imposing unreasonable limitations on ‘low-impact landscaping.’ Such restrictions on use include covenants, restrictions, or conditions included in, among other instruments, deeds, declarations, or contracts.
· HB 517 Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights: Proposes an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to establish that every person has the right to a certain clean and healthy environment; establishing that every person has the right to intervene in an action brought by the State or a political subdivision of the State to protect certain rights; prohibiting the State or a political subdivision of the state from causing diminution of or degradation to the State’s natural resources.
· HB 1520/SB 737 Sustainable Maryland Program Fund Establishment: Establishing the Sustainable Maryland Program Fund to expand and enhance Sustainable Maryland’s promotion and support of communities in the State in the effort to realize environmental, economic, and social sustainability; specifying that the Fund may be used for educating communities in the development of strategies to achieve green community certification.
Design Professions –
· HB 313 Public-Private Partnership Agreements – Minority Business Enterprise Program: Bill restores the applicability of the State’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program to public-private partnerships (P3s) established under current law. The Board of Public Works (BPW) may not approve a P3 agreement until a reporting agency, if permissible, establishes reasonable and appropriate MBE participation goals and procedures for the project, as specified.
Economic Development & Revitalization –
· SB 85 Maryland Neighborhood Revitalization Funding: Requires the Governor to include at least $235m in the annual operating or capital budget for specified community development and revitalization programs for FY 2022 through FY 2031.
· HB 107 Baltimore City Complete Streets Program Funding: Requires Baltimore City to transfer revenue from fines collected as a result of violations enforced by various traffic control monitoring systems to the Baltimore City Complete Streets Program Fund; establishes the Fund as a special, non-lapsing fund.
· HB 395 Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Fund – Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – Use of Proceeds for Maryland Healthy Soils Program
We look forward to sharing another Legislative Committee update with you following the General Assembly’s special session in May. In the meantime, take care and stay well!