Our 2021 Legislative Priorities
Changing local policy is one of our best tools for lasting change. We hope you’ll join us in advocating for these important pieces of statewide legislation!
The 2021 General Assembly session will be conducted with COVID-19 precautions in place, which will include no in-person testimony or on-site lobbying, at least to start. The Senate and House committees will have processes for submitting written testimony prior to bill hearings, as well as sign-ups for oral testimony via video call. In the Senate, even the number of individuals who may testify will be limited. This year especially, writing and emailing your legislators will be one of the single best ways to share your interest in legislation.
Our Top Priorities
Climate Solutions Now – House Bill583, Senate Bill 414
This bill would further reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by 60% below 2006 levels by 2030 and to net neutral by 2045. The Bill will invest resources in overburdened communities by directing the State’s Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to determine the percentage of state climate funds to be spent in communities that have experienced disproportionate impacts of changing climate, including urban heat, local flooding, and poor health outcomes. The Bill would also: plant 5 Million more trees statewide, with at least 10% in urban communities, require net neutrality at new state buildings, and fund transit bus and passenger vehicle electrification.
In Baltimore, climate change is driving more intense rain events, pollution of our waterways, increased sewage backups into buildings, local property damage, elevated summer temperatures, and respiratory health challenges. Reducing emissions from buildings, vehicles, and power generation, plus mitigating the impacts we are already experiencing can help reverse these trends.
Sponsored by Senator Pinsky and Delegate Stein
Statewide Plastic Bag Ban – House Bill 314, Senate Bill 223
This bill would ban the use and distribution of plastic bags (less than 4 millimeters thick) as well as “compostable” plastic bags, and will apply to ALL retailers, providing for only a few exemptions for uses such as deli meat, produce, newspapers, dry cleaning and fresh flowers. Enactment of jurisdiction-specific plastic bag bans (including Baltimore City’s in 2020, now delayed temporarily) have created a patchwork of policies statewide. This bill would create continuity among jurisdictions and reduce plastic pollution statewide.
Sponsored by Senator Augustine and Delegate Lierman
Blue Water Baltimore will also support legislative initiatives spearheaded by other environmental organizations, including:
Everyone deserves the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Everyone. Yet our laws do not currently protect this right. The Amendment would ensure that the right to a healthful environment would be enforceable, that all levels of government would be mandated to protect it, and that public and environmental health would remain a top priority regardless of administrative and political changes in leadership. It will also create a compelling legal impetus to pass additional environmental legislation that will protect our environment, economy, and public health.
This bill ensures that Maryland citizens have the unconditional right to intervene and participate in Clean Water Act cases brought by the state, a concept that has been misinterpreted by our courts. Under this bill, citizens, cities, and counties can intervene in state court, leading to cleaner water through stronger enforcement and penalties.
Sponsors: Senator Carter and Delegate Love.
Hearings: HB 76 is 1/20 at 1:30 pm and SB 334 is 1/26 at 1:00 pm.
- Water Pollution – Stormwater Management Regulations and Watershed Implementation Plans – Review and Update – HB295
Due to the effects of global climate change, it’s raining and flooding more in Maryland. Despite this fact, regulators are using 15-years-outdated rainfall data in their permits and modelling. This bill increases community resilience and mitigates urban and coastal flood impacts by adapting MD’s stormwater design standards and imposing climate-smart criteria on private-sector development to help the state meet existing climate pollution load requirements by 2025.
Sponsors: Delegates Love and Henson and Senators Elfreth, Hester and Pinsky
Hearing: HB 295 is 1/27 at 1:30 pm.
Transit Equity Recovery Package (2 bills) – While Blue Water Baltimore does not generally work on transportation issues, these bills are critically important for Baltimore’s residents and air and water quality.
Transit Safety and Investment Act – HB 114 / SB 199 This is the reintroduction of a 2020 bill will broad support that mandates increased state funds from the Transportation Trust Fund for critical transit repairs, maintenance, and improvements over 10 years.
Sponsors: Delegate Lierman and Senators McCray and Zucker
- Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act – HB 334 / SB 137 reintroduction of a 2020 bill that requires contracts for state-purchased budget, beginning in 2024, be for zero-emission vehicles, in order to completely transition the fleet by 2035.
Sponsors: Delegate Korman and Senator Zucker