2019 Legislative Recap

(excerpts taken from Maryland Horse Council legislative blog)

Harford County Crop Damage Permits

Bill HB 401/SB 923 will put into law the ability for farmers in Harford County with Crop Damage Permits to use the most efficient and effective tool for harvesting deer who are damaging crops: rifles (with the exception of when the deer hunting season is restricted to shotguns). MAWC generally supports bills which strengthen the effectiveness of Crop Damage Permits.

Land & Open Space

The following bills passed in this session: 

  • HB 20/SB 344 State Ag Land Transfer Tax – Non Ag Use Exemptions: Prior to this bill, developers could avoid paying agricultural land transfer tax on land that was currently being used for an ag activity (such as hay growing), despite the land having been previously assessed at a higher tax use (such as commercial or residential); with the amended version of this bill, developers will now have to pay a minimum of 35% of the ag assessment from year 4 and beyond.
  • SB 25 Recording Conservation Easements, Covenants, Restrictions, and Conditions: There are times when title companies or others working on behalf of land purchasers are legitimately unable to find whether or not a property is encumbered by an ag or conservation easement, usually because the easements are several decades old and may or may not have been properly filed initially. When this bill becomes law, entities which hold easements, such as Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, the Maryland Historical Trust, the Maryland Environmental Trust, and DNR will have access to land records, and will be compelled by law to properly record notice of easements, covenants, restrictions, and conditions in the land records of the county in which the property interest is located. 


Sunday Hunting/ Fair Use of Shared Resources

Below are only those bills which passed this session.

  • HB 199 added one Sunday for deer hunting in Wicomico, but before the bill was passed, it was amended limiting hunting from an hour prior to sunrise until 10:30 a.m.
  • Signed by the Governor before this issue went to press, HB 242 authorizes DNR to allow a person in Cecil County to hunt any game bird or mammal, on Sundays on public and private land.
  • Dorchester expands Sunday Hunting of Deer with bow, muzzleloader and firearms on private property: HB 618/SB 889, HB 619/SB 890  and HB 620/SB 888.
  • Originally, SB 390 would have opened up all Sundays on all public and private land  throughout the deer hunting season. The bill was amended and whittled down to just St. Mary’s County, but expanded to apply to all species of game bird or mammal on public and private land.