Mid-February Legislative Update

We are one month into the three-month session of the Maryland General Assembly. Here’s a quick report on bills we are following:

SB707/HB718 Community Cleanup and Greening Act: This is the bag bill. This year we are proposing that all counties in the state receive authority to enact their own fees on disposable bags. Right now only Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Montgomery County have such authority. The bills are sponsored by Senator Jamie Raskin and Delegate Al Carr, both of Montgomery County.
Hearings: Friday, February 21, Environmental Matters Committee (House) and Tuesday, February 25, Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee (Senate)

HB1049 Prince George’s County Authority to Impose Fees for Use of Disposable Bags: This is a local version of HB718, applying only to Prince George’s County. The sponsors are Senator Paul Pinsky and Delegate Barbara Frush. We are waiting for a discussion and hearing to be scheduled in the County Affairs subcommittee of the Prince George’s County House Delegation.

SB394 Statewide Container Recycling Refund Program: This is the container deposit, or bottle bill. It would create a system where the purchase of each bottle and can would include a five-cent deposit, refundable when the consumer returns the container for recycling at an authorized location. The bill is sponsored by Senator Brian Frosh of Montgomery County.
Hearing: Thursday, February 20, Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee (Senate)

HB405 Sales of Nonbiodegradable Cigarettes – Prohibited: This bill, sponsored by Baltimore County Delegate Jon Cardin, proposed to require all cigarettes sold in Maryland have biodegradable filters. While the intent of the bill is to reduce trash pollution, we had concerns for unintended consequences, and submitted informational testimony, described on our blog yesterday. The bill was heard in the Economic Matters Committee of the House last week but was already voted down.

SB56/HB240 Solid Waste Management Practices – Maryland Recycling and Landfill Diversion Task Force: This bill proposes a task force to study raising the recycling minimum standards and reducing maximum landfill rates for municipal solid waste in the counties. Trash Free Maryland is named as a participant in the task force, but because of a lack on consensus among Alliance members, we took no position on the bill. The sponsors are Senator Mac Middleton of Charles County and Delegate Steve Lafferty of Baltimore County. Hearings were held in Economic Matters and Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs on February 6 and February 11, respectively.

SB390/HB386 Illegal Dumping and Litter Control Law – Driver’s License – Points: This local bill would allow Baltimore City to add the addition of 8 points to the driver’s license of people convicted of illegal dumping while using a motor vehicle. Eight points is the same penalty applied in drunk driving and hit-and-run convictions, and generally results in an immediate license suspension. We supported the bill in hearings last week (in Judiciary and Judicial Proceedings), because stronger enforcement of litter laws will likely prevent the dumping in the first place. The bills were introduced by the Baltimore City delegation at the request of the mayor.
Updated 2/26: This bill would apply statewide, not just in Baltimore City. An amended version (lowering the points from 8 to 2–5) has passed the House and is now being considered in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

SB566 Littering – Mandatory Public Service: This bill, introduced by Senator Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel County, would add litter cleanup requirements to all littering convictions. The service requirement would be 8 to 24 hours, based on the quantity of trash littered.
Hearing: February 19, Judicial Proceedings Committee (Senate)

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