Title: Sales and Use Tax - Rate Reduction and Services (increase on services)
 
Legal Summary: Altering the definitions of "taxable price" and "taxable service" for the purposes of certain provisions of law governing the sales and use tax to impose the tax on certain labors and services……
 
Real Issue: Proposal to cut the state sales tax from 6% to 5% and then add most services as taxable. The intent of this legislation is to provide funding for the Kirwan Commission’s educational initiatives. Currently the Kirwan Commission bill has not passed. (An amendment to the Kirwan bill to include agriculture education has been made, that was somehow not included in prior versions.  I do not know the status of this amendment.  Hmmmmm...)
 
Hearing Date: 3/2
 
Suggest Position: Oppose this sales tax hike. (The MNLGA does not have a position on the Kirwan Commission bill.) The sales tax bill would make virtually every service offered by horticulture industry businesses taxable. This issue has come up several times in the past 8 years or so when the government was trying to raise money. MNLGA has opposed implementation of sales tax on services in all prior instances.
 
Action/Outcome: 

Bill Number: SB434/HB722
Title:  Labor and Employment - Occupational Safety and Health - Heat Stress Standards
 
Legal Summary:  Requiring the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to adopt regulations, on or before October 1, 2022, that include a certain standard establishing certain heat stress levels and to ensure that all employers comply with certain requirements with respect to occupational exposure to excessive heat; requiring certain employers to develop, implement, and maintain a certain excessive heat-related illness prevention plan for employees; etc.
 
Real Issue: This Bill requires MOSH to adopt regulations before October 2022 to establish heat stress levels that if exceeded would trigger specific requirements for employers to prevent heat related illness. Employers must submit a plan that is specific to their work environment and include provisions to: monitor exposure to excessive heat, provide potable cold water, provide paid rest breaks in shaded or climate controlled areas, provide emergency response, acclimate employees to high exposure, limit the amount of time employees can be exposed. Also requiring a heat alert program that when the NWS indicates a heat wave is likely to postpone non-urgent tasks, increase total number of workers, increase rest allowance, remind workers to drink water; and prevent hazard through the use of: PPE such as air cooled garments, rotating employees, etc. MOSH must require employers to take annual training on Heat Stress Prevention and the employer must provide training to their supervisors and employees. The bill also sets up requirements for record keeping and reporting of heat related incidents. 

Hearing Date: Senate 2/20; House 2/25
 
Suggested Position:
 
Action/Outcome:
 
 
 
Bill Number:  SB867/HB1311
Bill Title:  Allegany County and Garrett County - Definition of "Tree Expert" - Alteration
 
Legal Summary: Altering the definition of "tree expert" to exclude, in Allegany County and Garrett County, a person who, for the immediately preceding 3 years, has participated in a certain program and has been engaged continuously in the practice of timber harvesting, carries certain liability and property damage insurance, and is compensated for cutting, trimming, or removing certain trees on private property
 
Real Issue: This bill exempts a person working in Allegany and Garrett Counties from the requirement to be a licensed tree expert if for the immediate 3 years prior they have participated in the DNR Master Loggers program OR been engaged continuously in timber harvest logging AND carries liability insurance and is being compensated for removing dead, diseased or hazardous trees.
 
Hearing Date: Senate 3/04; House 3/10
Suggested Position:
 
Action/Outcome:
 


Bill Number: SB0403 ; HB 1123
Title:  Labor and Employment – Maryland Wage and Hour Law – Agricultural Standards

Legal Summary:
Establishing an exemption from the Maryland Wage and Hour Law for an individual employed at an agricultural stand that primarily sells at retail perishable or seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, or horticultural commodities that the employer has produced.

Real Issue: Same as above

Hearing Date:  Senate 2/20 – no activity since; House 3/3

Suggested Position: FYI

Action/Outcome:


Bill Number: SB0491
Title:  Regulation of Invasive Plants – Bamboo – Prohibitions

Legal Summary:
For the purpose of prohibiting a person from allowing bamboo to grow in a certain manner or spread onto certain property or rights–of–way; requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to provide written notice to a certain person under certain circumstances; requiring a certain person to dispose of or contain bamboo in a certain manner on written notice from the Secretary; providing for certain civil penalties for a certain violation; prohibiting a series of violations from resulting in penalties that exceed a certain amount; establishing that a certain person is not subject to a certain penalty under certain circumstances; authorizing the governing body of a county to adopt rules and regulations to govern the upkeep and containment of bamboo; authorizing the governing body of a county to enforce certain rules and regulations; defining a certain term; altering a certain definition; and generally relating to the regulation of invasive plants in the State.

Real Issue: Treats Bamboo as a Tier 1 Invasive Plant. Tier 1 plants are defined as plant species that cause or are likely to cause severe harm with the State.  A person may not propagate, import, transfer, sell, purchase, transport, or introduce any living part of a Tier One plant in the State.  The additional new part of the proposed law is that a person may not allow bamboo to grow without proper upkeep and containment measures, must work to prevent spread from the property of the person to public rights-of-way and to adjoining properties. The bill provides for penalties between $50 and $3000 for violations, in one calendar year. This bill allows any county to adopt this proposed rule.

Hearing Date: 2/11 

Suggested Position:

Action/Outcome:  2/24 – UNFAVORABLE REPORT; DIES IN COMMITTEE




Bill Number:  HB0229 and SB0300
Title: Pesticides - Use of Chlorpyrifos - Prohibition

Legal Summary:
Prohibiting the use of chlorpyrifos in the State, including insecticides containing chlorpyrifos and seeds treated with chlorpyrifos; and requiring the Department of Agriculture, with existing budgeted resources, to provide to farmers, certified crop advisors, and pesticide applicators certain education and assistance relating to integrated pest management.

Real Issue:
All out ban on use of C; requires MDA to provide assistance relating to IPM and alternatives to Chlorpyrifos

Hearing Date: House: 2/12; Senate 2/11 -

Suggested Position: Join with MFB and peers across MD agriculture to oppose the bill; ornamental horticulture is not a significant user of C, however, members are opposed to removing the option of using this pesticide, when needed. Also question that MDA may be able to provide alternatives and IPM education with “existing” budgeted resources.

Action/Outcome: MNLGA will be included with larger MD ag group to testify in opposition to these bills;  2/25 – Senate – received favorable report with amendments. (as of 2/25 – I cannot see the amendments; website is down). MDA is working to phase out use of C and producers of this agent are ceasing to produce it, as well. Bottom line, Chlorpyrifos is going away.

Bill Number:  HB0161          
Title: Nutrient Management - Professional Fertilizer Applicators - Requirements and Penalties

Legal Summary:
Prohibiting a person from commercially applying fertilizer to certain property unless the person is a professional fertilizer applicator or employs a professional fertilizer applicator; requiring a person that employs a certain professional fertilizer applicator to obtain a certain license for each place of business for which the professional fertilizer applicator provides certain services; and altering the application of a certain civil penalty to include the employer of a person who violates certain provisions of law.

Real Issue:
Requested by MDA - for purpose of adding to the law that a business has a fertilizer applicator license, not just an individual. Right now, regs require a businss to have a fert app license, but it is not in law. Bill is “by request of the Governor”

Hearing Date: 2/5 cancelled and rescheduled to 2/12

Suggested Position: Follow to make sure no other provisions of the current law are suggested for change.

Action/Outcome:


Bill Number:  HB0279
Title: Real Property - Restrictions on Use - Low-Impact Landscaping
 
Legal Summary:
Prohibiting a certain restriction on use from imposing unreasonable limitations on low-impact landscaping under certain circumstances; providing that the Act may not be construed to prohibit a certain restriction on use from including certain reasonable guidelines regarding the type, number, and location of low-impact landscaping features; and exempting a certain restriction on use on certain historic property from the applicability of the Act.

Real Issue:
Prevents something like an HOA from prohibiting a homeowner to put in a rain garden, etc.

Hearing Date:  2/11 – no activity since

Suggested Position: FYI to members; members may want to support; MNLGA needs more feedback from members as to whether to actively support

Action/Outcome:

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FYI Only

MNLGA does not have a position on activities within the hemp industry. Hemp-related bills are presented below with other “FYI” bills. There is a newly formed Maryland Hemp Coalition, managed through Grow & Fortify, that is a good resource for your hemp-related questions. Please visit www.hempmaryland.org .

Bill Number:  HB0574
Title: Agriculture- License to Produce Hemp – Limitations

Legal Summary:
For the purpose of altering a certain licensing requirement for producing hemp in the 4 State; prohibiting the Department of Agriculture from issuing a license to a person 5 to produce hemp in the State under certain circumstances; requiring the Department 6 to make a certain determination in a certain manner; and generally relating to the 7 production of hemp in the State.

Hearing: 2/19 canceled and rescheduled for 2/26, canceled and rescheduled for 2/25

Bill Number:  HB0510
Title: Agriculture – Hemp Research and Production – Prohibitions

Legal Summary:
For the purpose of prohibiting the Maryland Department of Agriculture from certifying 4 and registering a site that will be used to grow or cultivate hemp under the Hemp 5 Research Pilot Program if the area on which the hemp will be grown is located within 6 a certain distance of a certain residential community; prohibiting the Department 7 from issuing a license to a person to produce hemp in the State if the area on which 8 the hemp will be produced is located within a certain distance of a certain residential 9 community; and generally relating to hemp research and hemp production.

Hearing Date: 2/19

Bill Number:  HB0805; SB0964
Title: Montgomery County - Public Safety - Buildings Used for Agritourism

Legal Summary:
Adding Montgomery County to the list of counties where an existing agricultural building used for agritourism is not considered a change of occupancy that requires a building permit under certain circumstances

Real Issue:
Adding Montgomery County to the list of counties where an existing agricultural building used for agritourism is not considered a change of occupancy that requires a building permit

Hearing Date:  House 3/10;

Suggested Position: FYI to members

Action/Outcome:



Bill Number:  HB0335 ; SB0432
Title: Charles County - Public Safety - Buildings Used for Agritourism

Legal Summary:
Adding Charles County to the list of counties where an existing agricultural building used for agritourism is not considered a change of occupancy that requires a building permit under certain circumstances

Real Issue:
Adding Charles County to the list of counties where an existing agricultural building used for agritourism is not considered a change of occupancy that requires a building permit

Hearing Date: House 2/21

Suggested Position: FYI to members

Action/Outcome:  House – 2/24 UNFAVORABLE REPORT IN COMMITTEE; WITHDRAWN  Senate hearing 3/4

 
Bill Number:  SB0092
Title: Secretary of Ag - Weed Control Law
 
Legal Summary:
Authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into an agreement with a county or other subdivision of the State to conduct surveys and perform other work related to noxious weeds or other plant species within the county or subdivision; providing that the agreement between the Secretary and the county or subdivision of the State may be terminated by either party on 30 days' written notice; and defining "subdivision of the State" to include a soil conservation district.

Real Issue:
Requested by MDA - allows MDA to work with county Soil Conservation Districts to surveys of location and amount of noxious weeds and to provide control and eradication efforts

Hearing Date: 1/16

Suggested Position: FYI

Action/Outcome: 1/21– passed in Senate; sent to House






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General Notes:

The 2020 General Assembly is now in session. From this point through the end of the session, April 6th, the MNLGA will send our regular updates and requests for input/comments regarding proposed legislation. MNLGA is part of MaGIC (Maryland Green Industry Council). MaGIC was formed in 2002 to serve as the legislative and regulatory voice for Maryland’s Green Industry. MaGIC members include the MNLGA, MD Arborist Assoc, FALCAN, MAGI, and LCA. MaGIC contracts with Thompson Ag Associates to provide executive management and Semmes, Bowen, and Semmes for the services of a professional lobbyist.  

For the duration of the General Assembly, which runs from January 8th through April 6th, I will keep you abreast of bills that MaGIC and the MNLGA are following. I will often ask for your feedback and request quick turnaround on your comments and opinion. I will also keep you abreast of legislative action on the bills we follow. MaGIC’s focus is on bills that are Green Industry-specific. Hence, we do not follow all business-related bills. The MNLGA may get involved with business related bills via the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, of which we are a member.