The 2009 General Assembly session has come to an end. The total number of bills introduced was 2,654 (1,073 in the Senate and 1,581 in the House of Delegates). Every month it seems I write about the fact that the State of Maryland manages to spend more money than it takes in. This month is no exception. Our legislators adopted an annual operating budget of nearly $14 billion. Although this amount balances the state’s current budget, it does not address the long-term budget deficit.
Below is final status of bills that were of particular interest to the hound sport community:
SB 110/HB 546, Vehicle Laws – Transporting Pets in Trucks and Trailers. This bill was introduced in the House of Delegates last year and was killed by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. This year the bill was crossfiled. It would prohibit transporting of pets (livestock is exempted) in an open pickup truck or trailer. Some counties already have this law in place but, if passed, it would become state law. SB 110 made it to the Senate floor where it was voted down; HB 546 had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on February 12 and then subsequently withdrawn by the sponsor.
SB 318/HB 495, Criminal Law – Crimes Relating to Animals – Limitations on Possession of Breeding Dogs. SB318 was introduced in the Senate by Senators Gladden, Della, Madaleno, and Stone. The primary sponsor of HB 495 was Delegate Smigiel along with 30 other delegates from both political parties. The legislation was introduced in an effort to prohibit “puppy mills” and similar legislation has been introduced across the country. Good intentions aside, this legislation would have had far-reaching effects that could destroy foxchasing, beagling and basseting and perhaps even dog shows and field trials. SB 318 was heard on February 18 in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and subsequently withdrawn by the sponsor who promises to rework the bill and introduce it next year. HB 495 was heard on February 12 in the House Judiciary Committee where it died without a vote.
SB 609/HB 1245, Frederick County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays. SB 609 was introduced by Senator Brinkley and HB 1245 was introduced by the Frederick County Delegation. This legislation would allow Sunday bow hunting on private property on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November. SB 609/HB 1245 passed the General Assembly and should be signed into law by the Governor.
SB 944, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties – Deer Hunting. This bill would have required the Department of Natural Resources to establish a program to train sharpshooters whose purpose it would be to control the deer population. People who currently have a deer damage permit would be given preference. This would allow gun hunting from January through March and people may hunt on State land in those counties to the same extent as people who are authorized under the deer damage permit to hunt on private land in those counties. Although this bill passed the full Senate with a vote of 44-0, it died in the House of Delegates.
SB 944 seemed innocuous but in reality it would have greatly expanded deer hunting in Maryland. MAWC opposed this bill and will keep an eye on this legislation next year, as well.
HB 663, Baltimore County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays, would have allowed bow hunting on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November. This bill was introduced by Delegates Boteler, Aumann, Bartlett, Bromwell, Dwyer, Eckardt, Frank, Impallaria, Jennings, Myers, Norman, Schuler, Smigiel, Sossi, Stull, and Weir and was given anunfavorable report by the Environmental Matters Committee. Because this bill was not a Baltimore County Delegation bill, it was not considered to be “local courtesy.”
HB 1065, Calvert and Prince George’s – Deer Hunting on Private Lands – Sundays, was introduced by Delegate O’Donnell (Calvert County) and Delegate Ross (Prince George’s) and would have allowed bow hunting in Calvert County on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November but, more importantly, would allow Sunday gun and bow hunting in Prince George’s County on those Sundays. What’s interesting with this bill is that it was not a Prince George’s Delegation bill. That is significant because bills like this would be considered local courtesy bills and would carry extra weight to pass. After Prince George’s County was amended out of this bill, it passed the House and had a hearing in the Senate where it died.