April 10, 2019
Final Report
MaGIC Legislative Update:                                                       

Dear MNLGA members:

On Monday evening, the 2019 Maryland General Assembly ended with sine die at 11:59 p.m. We breathe a collective sigh of relief as we return to our “normal” working lives. There was not a tremendous amount of legislative impact on green industry-specific bills this year.

Perhaps the most hotly contested bill industry faced this year was the proposed ban on Chlorpyrifos. Although the ornamental horticulture industry is not hugely dependent upon Chlorpyrifos, it is one of the reliable tools many nurseries use when needed, and the call to ban this EPA-approved product seemed unwarranted. The bill passed in the House with an amendment that permitted the Secretary of Agriculture to permit use of Chlorpyrifos in cases of last resort. No version of the bill, however, left the Senate working committee, hence the bill died.


BILLS FOLLOWED IN THE 2019 GENERAL ASSEMBLY
 
This bill essentially revises the current Black Fly Management and Control procedures to apply to Nuisance Insects, in general -- for the purpose of authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to implement, under certain circumstances, a program to control or eliminate nuisance insects in the State; authorizing the Secretary to carry out a certain project to control or eliminate nuisance insects if the county or municipality in which the nuisance insects are located agrees to pay a certain portion of certain costs; establishing the Nuisance Insects Fund as a special, nonlapsing fund; requiring the Secretary to remit certain payments to the Comptroller for deposit to the Fund; requiring the Secretary or the Secretary’s designee to administer the Fund; specifying the contents of the Fund; specifying the purpose for which the Fund may be used; repealing certain provisions of law relating to black fly management and control; authorizing the Secretary to adopt certain regulations; stating a certain finding of the General Assembly; defining certain terms; and generally relating to controlling or eliminating nuisance insects in the State.
Hearing – March 12
MaGIC Position – none; informational only
Outcome: Passed both Chambers

 
SB 407  / HB0255 Public Schools – Agricultural Education Programs
Another repeat bill that failed to make it through the General Assembly in 2018, this bill defines Ag Education in Maryland public schools and encourages county school programs to adopt and use this definition in their existing Ag Education Programs or when they are creating new Ag Education Programs. Each county board of education is encouraged to implement an Agricultural Education Program that prepares students for:
Hearing date: House 2/14; Senate 2/13
Proposed MaGIC position: Supportive
Outcome: Received unfavorable report in Senate committee; passed in House with amendments

SB546 / HB 904Agriculture – Nutrient Management – Monitoring and Enforcement
Requiring a person who holds a certain certificate or license to comply with certain reporting requirements and deadlines related to implementation of the Phosphorus Management Tool and the submission of certain soil test phosphorus levels; requiring the Department of Agriculture to establish a voluntary certification program for certain commercial manure haulers and brokers…effective October 1, 2019.
Hearing date: Senate 2/27; House 3/6
Proposed MaGIC Position: Informational only, as this bill does not really impact the nursery industry, other than to adjust penalties for failing to file or violating one’s nutrient management plan. 
Outcome: Passed in House and Senate with many amendments

HB 808 Weed Control – Noxious Weeds – Regulations and Penalties
This bill takes the list of noxious weeds out of statute and gives MDA the authority to set the list through regulation. It also allows MDA to pursue civil penalties with fines and a “three-strikes” method before pursuing criminal charges for violations of the noxious weed law. All fines are to be directed to a fund for noxious weed eradication.
Background : Currently, the noxious weed list is in statute and requires legislation to change. MDA can only pursue criminal violations. Additionally, there is not much, if any, funding available for noxious weed control, especially at the county level. 
Hearing date:  House – 2/27
MDA supports this bill
Proposed MaGIC position: Support
Outcome: Passed in both chambers

HB 511Maryland Commercial Fertilizer Law – Definition of Soil Conditioner – Alteration
This bill seeks to expand the definition of soil condition to include the capitalized words, as follows: “Soil conditioner” includes but is not limited to materials such as compost, peat, vermiculite, [or] perlite, OR DIGESTATE PRODUCED BY ANAEROBIC DIGESTION that are incorporated into the soil.
Hearing date: House 2/27
Proposed MaGIC position: Neutral; no position; to membership as Informational Only
Outcome: Passed in both chambers

HB 275 and SB 270 (identical bills) pick up after last year’s failed attempt to ban the use of chlorpyrifos (perhaps better known in the industry under the name Dursban), including insecticides containing chlorpyrifos and seeds treated with chlorpyrifos effective January 1, 2020. Please let me know if your business has reliance on this chlorpyrifos and your thoughts on the use of chlorpyrifos. Please provide back-up to your response; we have to have examples of how passage of the bill would be detrimental to your business in order to draft purposeful response to the bill.
Hearing dates: House 2/13; Senate 2/27
Proposed MaGIC Position: Opposed, on the basis that although not heavily used by the industry, when needed, it is a very effective pesticide and industry would like to have access to its use. Members will be present to testify on hearing dates.
Outcome: Passed in the House with amendment, below; but did not make it out of committee in the Senate; the bill died.

As of March 12 -passed in the House with the following amendment: after line 19, insert: “(B) IF THE DEPARTMENT DETERMINES THAT NO ALTERNATIVE TO THE USE OF CHLORPYRIFOS EXISTS, THE DEPARTMENT MAY GRANT A WAIVER, ON REQUEST, TO ALLOW A PERSON TO USE CHLORPYRIFOS, INCLUDING INSECTICIDES THAT CONTAIN CHLORPYRIFOS OR SEEDS THAT HAVE BEEN TREATED WITH CHLORPYRIFOS, ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 31, 2022. 
 
BILLS NOT FOLLOWED BY MaGIC THAT MAY STILL BE OF INTEREST TO YOU
 
C onstitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights – HB 472
FOR the purpose of proposing an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to establish 4 that every person has the right to a certain clean and healthy environment; 5 specifying that the State’s natural resources are the common property of every 6 person; requiring the State and each political subdivision of the State to serve as the 7 trustee of the State’s natural resources and to conserve, protect, and maintain the 8 State’s natural resources for the benefit of every person, including present and future 9 generations; prohibiting the State or a political subdivision of the State from causing 10 unreasonable diminution of or degradation to the State’s natural resources; 11 prohibiting the State or a political subdivision of the State from infringing on certain 12 rights; authorizing the State, a political subdivision of the State, and any person to 13 enforce certain rights; establishing that every person has the right to intervene in 14 an action brought by the State or a political subdivision of the State to protect certain 15 rights; defining certain terms; and submitting this amendment to the qualified 16 voters of the State for their adoption or rejection.
Hearing date: 2/20
Outcome: 3/11 - Unfavorable report for House Committee; this kills the bil l
 
Minimum Wage – SB280 and HB 166 These bills seek to raise the minimum wage from $10.10 an hour to $11.00 an hour effective July 1, 2019, with an annual increase of $1.00 each July 1, through 2023.  

Based on member surveys conducted when this legislation was introduced in the past, the MNLGA, as an organization does not have consensus on either favoring or opposing this legislation. Because the membership does not have a consensus, MNLGA is not able to take a position. Members who wish to weigh in on this legislation are encouraged to contact their legislators. You may look up your elected officials via this link .
Hearing Dates: Senate 2/21; House 2/8
Outcome: Passed both Chambers with multiple amendments.
 

Thank you for your time and feedback, in helping craft MNLGA/MaGIC response to 2019 legislation. If you ever have questions or comments, please contact me at 410-823-8684. 
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