January 29, 2021 - Issue #2
Dear MNLGA members:

Welcome to Friday! It’s that time of year again – the Maryland General Assembly is in Session. From now through the end of the Session, April 12th, MNLGA will send regular updates on bills that it is following. Updates since the prior distribution of this bulletin will be noted in red font.

The weekly summaries offer a suggested position based on initial review by the MNLGA board and legislative committees. Please provide me feedback on any of the bills followed, as you desire, as your voice will help craft our final position on legislation.

And a quick "thank you" to Jen Gray of AmericanHort for keeping us relevant in the meme world......

HB0056 - Labor and Employment – Leave with Pay – Bereavement Leave
Authorizing employees of certain employers to use certain leave with pay for bereavement leave; defining the term "bereavement leave" as leave an employee is allowed to use on the death of a member of the employee's immediate family; and defining the term "child" for purposes of certain bereavement leave to include an adopted, biological, or foster child, a stepchild, or a legal ward.
Recommended Position – FYI
 
HB92 -  Procurement - Invasive and Nonnative Plant Species - Prohibition on Use of State Funds - Hearing 1/28
This bill prohibits state funds from being used to purchase or plant invasive or non-native plant species. Exceptions are: scientific evidence showing the site conditions are too harsh for a similar native species to survive; the plant is part of historically accurate landscaping; the plat is commonly used for agricultural or horticultural purposes and is being maintained for the purposes of education or research. The bill also gives the Board of Public Works the authority to grant waivers for "due cause."
Recommended Position:  Offer amendment to remove non-native plant species from this bill on the basis that cultivars are important and have purposeful use in the environment/landscape to provide overall biological diversity, habitat, and year-round food source for wildlife. Written testimony was submitted for the January 28 hearing. 
 
HB208/SB375 - Agriculture - Neonicotinoid Pesticide - Sale and Storage - Hearing 1/29
This bill amends the 2017 law in order to require that not only do you have to be a certified applicator or farmer to apply a neonicotinoid pesticide (current law) but you must also be a certified applicator or farmer to purchase neonicotinoid pesticides.
Recommended Position: No position - this is clarifying legislation for current law
 
HB0269 - Department of Agriculture - Urban Agriculture Grant Program
Establishing the Urban Agriculture Grant Program in the Department of Agriculture to increase the viability of urban farming and improve access to urban-grown foods; establishing an Urban Agriculture Grant Fund to provide grants to nonprofit organizations in Baltimore City to implement the Program; requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to administer the Fund; authorizing the distribution of up to $400,000 from certain abandoned property funds to the Fund for each of fiscal years 2023 through 2026; etc.
Recommended Position: Support
 
HB322 - Real Property - Restriction on Use - Low-impact Landscaping - Hearing 1/19
This bill 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. The bill may not be construed to prohibit a restriction on use from including reasonable design and aesthetic guidelines regarding the type, number, and location of low-impact landscaping features. The bill is not applicable to historic property that is listed in, or eligible for inclusion in, the Maryland Register of Historic Properties.  
Recommended Position: No Position
 
HB472 - Agriculture - Use of Glyphosate - Prohibition - Hearing Feb 3
This bill prohibits all use of Glyphosate in the state of Maryland.
Recommended Position: Oppose; support proper use of, via label/instructions
  
HB0577 - Health and Welfare of H–2 Visa and Migrant Workers – COVID–19 Pandemic – Regulations (Healthy Farmworkers Act)
Requiring the Secretary of Labor to adopt certain regulations, on or before October 1, 2021, relating to housing, accommodations, safety, health, rights, and welfare of H-2A and H-2B visa and migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recommended Position: Opposition based on the fact that these conditions are already covered under current law and/or regulations. Redundancy not needed.
 
HB0581 (SB0486) - Labor and Employment - Employment Standards During an Emergency (Maryland Essential Workers' Protection Act)
Requiring an essential employer to give a written statement regarding certain hazard pay paid to certain essential workers for each pay period; requiring an essential employer to take certain actions related to occupational safety and health during an emergency; authorizing an essential worker to refuse to fulfill a work responsibilities under certain circumstances; prohibiting an essential employer from retaliating or taking other adverse action against an essential worker or other worker for certain actions; etc.
Recommended Position: Monitoring this one
 
SB0011 - Sales and Use Tax - Agricultural Purpose Exemption - Seedlings and Fruit Trees -Hearing 1/26
Adds fruit trees and seedlings as being exempt from sales and use tax
Recommended Position: No position is really needed as ag inputs and ag-to-ag sales are already tax exempt, but we could support. This looks like it’s a single constituent bill, to help one farmer who had a tough time getting his ag exemption for fruit trees.
 
SB0210 (HB0508) - COVID-19 Claim - Civil Immunity
Providing civil immunity from liability for a COVID-19 claim to a person who acts in compliance with certain statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders, and agency orders, unless the person acted with gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing; providing that certain deviations from certain statutes, rules, regulations, executive orders, and agency orders does not deny a person civil immunity provided for under the Act; limiting the effect of the civil immunity provided for under the Act; etc. Fiscal and Policy Note
Recommended Position: FYI or Support with letter
 
Hearing 1/14
This bill was submitted on behalf of MDA and seeks to repeal the provisions that make multiflora rose a nuisance weed that must be managed, based on MDA’s advisement that the State’s ag industry has multiflora rose contained and under control, making the current law no longer necessary.    
Recommended PositionNo Position. Multi-flora Rose remains on the noxious weed list and will be managed. This bill closes a loop whole that created one law just to manage multi-flor rose.
 
SB0414 (HB0583) - Climate Solutions Act of 2021
This is a whopper 52 page bill…
Requiring the State to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2030; requiring the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045; requiring the Maryland Department of Labor to adopt regulations establishing certain energy conservation requirements for certain buildings by July 1, 2022; establishing a goal of planting and helping to maintain in the State 5,000,000 sustainable trees of species native to the State by the end of 2030; terminating certain provisions of the Act; etc.
Recommended Position: FYI
 
( For the duration of the General Assembly I will keep you abreast of bills that MaGIC and the MNLGA are following. MaGIC’s focus is on bills that are Green Industry-specific. Hence, we do not follow all business-related bills. The 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 American Joe Miedusiewski provides us lobbying advice and service through Old Line Government Affairs, LLC.)

As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at 410-823-8684.

Thank you and have a nice weekend.

Vanessa A. Finney
MNLGA
Executive Director