Crossover Update: 2022 Legislative Session

With 3 short weeks left of the 2022 legislative session in Maryland, I'm proud of the progress we have made on some of our priorities and ready to charge ahead through the finish line.

With 3 short weeks left of the 2022 legislative session in Maryland, I’m proud of the progress we have made on some of our priorities and ready to charge ahead through the finish line.

Legislative advocacy continues to pose significant challenges two years into the pandemic, but I had my first visit into the State Senate earlier this month to testify masked, but in person. Here are some bills to keep your eye on in the next few weeks

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The George “Walter” Taylor Act – Stop Toxic PFAS, Sen. Elfreth and Del. Love (SB273/HB275): We are exposed to PFAS chemicals, which are linked to cancer and other illnesses, in water, food, and consumer products. This bill stops their use in firefighting foam, food packaging and rugs and carpets. It also prevents the mass incineration or landfilling of PFAS chemicals. This bill has moved with UNANIMOUS bipartisan support through both chambers. After a few procedural votes it is expected to head to Gov. Hogan’s desk where he can chose to sign, veto, or let it go into law without his signature.

Climate Solutions, Sen. Pinsky (SB528) Del. Barve and Del. Stein: This family of bills updates Maryland emissions reductions goals to reduce gross emissions to 60% by 2030 (compared to 2006) and net-zero by 2045, lays out plans for building electrification and building emissions standards, school bus electrification and net-zero k-12 schools, and helps move utility companies away from fossil fuels. A modified version of this bill moved through the State Senate which removed requirements for all electric heating and water for new, large buildings. Now the bill moves to the House where it needs to be supported by the House Environment and Transportation and Economic Matters Committees before going to the floor for a vote. Then, it would head to Gov. Hogan’s desk where he can chose to sign, veto, or let it go into law without his signature. You can send a message to your legislators to ask them to support the bill here.

Special Elections to Fill a Vacancy in Office, Sen. Lam (SB73): This bill amends the state constitution to require certain vacancies in the General Assembly to be filled by special election. Currently, local party central committees, which often are made up of a single-digit number of party insiders, vote for a replacement. If passed, the bill would go to the voters for authorization on the November ballot.  A special election is more representative of the will of the people and more democratic. The Senate unanimously voted in support of this legislation. However, the committee hearing for this bill in the House was canceled. For more information about the importance of special elections for democracy, check out our op-ed in Maryland Matters in support of the bill. 

Strengthening Enforcement of Clean Water Laws, Sen. President on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General (SB221):  This bill would give the Maryland Department of Environment and Attorney General stronger tools to protect drinking water and waterways in Maryland. The bill, championed by Attorney General Brian Frosh, will ensure polluting industries can be properly penalized for violating the state’s clean water laws. The bill passed the Senate and now heads to the House Environment and Transportation Committee. If passed by the House it would head to Gov. Hogan’s desk where he can chose to sign, veto, or let it go into law without his signature. You can send a message to ask your Delegates to support the bill here.
We’ll keep you updated on these, and other bills. As always, please visit us on Twitter for the most timely updates.

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Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Emily has helped win small donor public financing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. She has played a key role in establishing new state laws to to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms, require testing for lead in school drinking water and restrict the use of toxic flame retardant and PFAS chemicals. Emily also serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. Emily lives in Baltimore City with her husband, kids, and dog.