It has been three weeks since the beginning of the 2017 General Assembly session and our push for a polystyrene phase out is in full swing! Overall, we have received positive feedback regarding SB186/HB229 to eliminate the use of polystyrene to-go packaging. We have been working hard alongside our partner Trash Free Maryland and champions Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Cheryl Kagan to garner broad support – we now have 19 Senate co-sponsors and 16 House co-sponsors, positioning us well going into committee hearings.
The Education, Health, and Environment Committee (EHE) heard the polystyrene bill last Tuesday where two Baltimore City Polytechnic Institute students, Claire Wayner and Mercedes (Sadie) Thompson, testified in support. The students wrote their own testimony in preparation for the hearing and patiently sat through 3.5 hours of testimony before taking their turn. Claire and Sadie gave an authentic, impassioned, and powerful voice to the issue of polystyrene litter throughout Baltimore. Their testimony brought a palpable energy change in the hearing room, and Vice-Chair Sen. Pinsky, as well as many legislators, including Sen. Nathan-Pulliam from Baltimore, personally thanked the students. Blue Water Baltimore strives to empower our neighbors and amplify citizen voice, and we could not be more proud of Claire and Sadie’s work! Our Public Policy and Advocacy Manager is collaborating with the students to coordinate a lobby day on February 8th in which over 100 students from across the state will convene in Annapolis to meet directly with senators and delegates regarding this bill.
With the hearing complete we hope to hear a favorable report from the EHE committee in the coming days. Our next step will be the House Environment and Transportation committee hearing on Feb. 15th. For more information on how you can support our legislative efforts be sure to follow us on both Facebook and Twitter for the most up-to-date progress. You can find more information about Claire and Sadie’s work through their organization Baltimore Beyond Plastic!