2016 Legislative Session

Legislative Update, May 2016 (as featured in The Equiery)

 Funding Restored for Preservation and Conservation
As far as any one can recall, this session may have set a record for how quickly both the Operating (SB 190) and Capital (SB 191) Budgets were finalized (in March!).
Even better news is that funding has been restored to some of the programs that are most critical to ensuring open space and viable agriculture.

In April, Governor Larry Hogan signed into law HB 462, “Program Open Space – Transfer Tax Repayment – Use of Funds,” which was passed unanimously by both the House  and the Senate. The act restores at least some of the previous diversions from Program Open Space, which will help to ensure future protection of farms, forests and historic places.

With his signature, the Governor has delivered on his promise to restore funding to Program Open Space (POS), has provided a $6 million increase in POS funding for Baltimore City, and has created a repayment plan to restore funds diverted from POS during previous administrations. Additionally, the program would return to full cash funding in FY 19, and beginning in FY 19 if there are new cuts, the governor must include a plan to restore one-third of the cut over each of three successive years.
While the original Program Open Space Act of 1969 dedicated these funds to land preservation, for many years administrations and legislators have raided and diverted them for other purposes. POS funds land conservation, historic resource protection and park development across the state, for state agencies as well as county governments and the City of Baltimore.  Projects funded protect water quality and wildlife habitat, create new recreation opportunities, and protect farmland and historic sites.
Fiscal Year funding for land conservation and recreation with the Department of Natural Resources is as follows:
Program Open Space Statewide: $13.8 million
Program Open Space Local: $21.7 million
Rural Legacy: $7.8 million plus an additional $4.862 million for a total of $12.662 million from the operating budget, and $5 million from the capital budget.
Maryland Ag Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) funding was secured.
Additionally, income tax credits related to preservation and conservation easements will become law. The Maryland Farm Bureau reports that this new law alters the existing preservation and conservation easement income tax credit by allowing (1) a member of pass-through entities to claim the credit and (2) easements conveyed to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to qualify for the credit. The bill specifies that the sum of all credits claimed by members of a pass-through entity in a taxable year may not exceed $5,000 and the total amount of credits available per year may not exceed $200,000. The Comptroller must adopt regulations to specify the procedures for a member of a pass-through entity in order to claim the credit.
 
Hefty Fines For Poaching
Equestrians who are fed up with hunters who do not abide by the laws will be pleased to know that Maryland law enforcement now has more muscle when prosecuting poaching incidents. Individuals hunting out of season are not considered hunters, they are poachers. Individuals hunting in areas where hunting is not permitted are not hunters, they are poachers. Maryland law now has the teeth to back that up, with poachers now facing fees of as much as $10,000 per misdemeanor count.
Legislative Update, April 2016 (as featured in The Equiery)
A key date in the ninety-day session of the Maryland General Assembly is “cross-over day;” this is the day that if a bill is not voted out of its original house, so that it can “cross-over” to the opposite chamber for debate, it is effectively dead for this year.
2016 cross-over day was March 21; the 2016 legislative session will officially adjourn on April 11 (also known as “sine die”), and so – as you read this, there is a flurry of activity as committee chairs rush to wrap things up.  Hearings will be scheduled with much shorter notice, sometimes only a day in advance.  When there are hearings, many will allow only sponsors to orally testify (others may still make an appearance in the committee to support the sponsors and to be available for question, and may still file written testimony).
So, as we go to press, post-cross over day, what bills are left in play that may be of concern?
Sunday Hunting
The Maryland Horse Council is seeking to combat the flurry each year (for the last 12 years) of what are called “local courtesy bills” which expand hunting by a day or two in small, geographic regions by brokering a state-wide compromise that would ensure the fair use of shared natural resources among all users groups. MHC succeeded in getting a bill drafted this year, Senate Bill 1061, courtesy of bill sponsor Joan Carter Conway, who is the chair of the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. However, there were some problems with the language in the drafting process, and the bill never received a hearing. However, the concept of a compromise bill was favorably received by other legislators and regulators, and MHC will seek to move the concept of a compromise bill forward in the next session.
Funding Program Open Space & Preservation
MHC is actively supporting SB 383 and HB 462, which would restore funding for Program Open Space. The House approved its version and the bill is now scheduled for a hearing in Senate Budget & Taxation.
Tax Credits for Preservation and Conservation 
House Bill 276 alters the existing preservation and conservation easement income tax credit by allowing (1) a member of pass-through entities to claim the credit and (2) easements conveyed to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to qualify for the credit. The bill specifies that the sum of all credits claimed by members of a pass-through entity in a taxable year may not exceed $5,000. The Comptroller must adopt regulations to specify the procedures for a member of a pass-through entity to claim the credit. The Maryland Farm Bureau is actively supporting this bill, and MHC is monitoring. The bill was approved by the House, has crossed over to the Senate, and will be heard in Budget & Taxation on March 29.
Perpetual Conservation Easements
Senate Bill 371 and its cross-filed cousin House Bill 1643 would provide a subtraction modification under the Maryland income tax for the first $500,000 in proceeds from the sale of a perpetual conservation easement on real property in the State.  Under current law when a farm family decides to preserve their farm by selling the development rights, the proceeds from that sale have to be claimed as personal income tax.  Typically, this moves them into a much higher tax bracket, which in turn has them pay a higher percentage of their income.  This tax increase is not only on the proceeds from the sale of the easement, but also on the entire yearly income.  This tax increase is in addition to what the family has to pay in Federal Capital Gains tax.  This bill would encourage farm families to preserve the farm for future generations. MFB supports this bill. Both bills stalled out in this session.
Increasing Penalties for Animal Crimes
Senate Bill 722 would increase the penalties for those convicted of crimes related to animals; penalties may include prohibition against owning animals in the future. However, the Maryland Horse Council has found it troubling that this bill would likewise criminalize vets who fair to notify authorities if they suspect abuse or neglect. This bill was given an unfavorable report by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and is officially dead.  The bill was cross-filed in the House (HB 1586) and stalled out in committee.

2013 Legislative Session

SB 24/HB 214, Queen Anne’s County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays.

This bill would add Queen Anne’s County to the list of counties that allow a person to hunt deer on private property with a bow and arrow or crossbow during open season on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November as well as adding Queen Anne’s county to the list of counties that already allow firearms hunting on two Sundays during firearms season.   This bill was introduced last year as HB 1448.  At that time, it passed the House but died in the Senate EHE Committee.  SB 24 was introduced by Senator Pipkin and had a hearing in the Senate EHE Committee on January 23. HB 214 had a hearing in Environmental Matters and has the full support of both the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners and the Queen Anne’s County Delegation.  It also has the support of the Maryland Farm Bureau and DNR. This bill passed and became law.

SB 41/HB 272, Kent County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays
This bill would add Kent County to the list of counties that allow a person to hunt deer on private property with a bow and arrow or crossbow during open season on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November as well as adding Kent county to the list of counties that already allow firearms hunting on two Sundays during firearms season.   These bills were withdrawn after the Kent County Commissioners withdrew their support as a result of citizen pressure.

HB 276, Frederick County – Deer Hunting – Use of Rifles.  This bill would allow the use of rifles to hunt deer in all of Frederick County.  Currently, hunters can use rifles in certain parts of Frederick County. This bill has been withdrawn.

HB 367, Hunting – Deer Firearms Season – January Days.  This bill would require DNR to establish by regulation a deer firearms season that includes a minimum of three days in January for the hunting of antlerless deer.  This bill has been withdrawn.

HB 369, Hunting – Deer Muzzle Loader Season – January Days.  This bill would require DNR to establish a deer muzzle loader season for a minimum of three days in January for the hunting of both antlered and antlerless deer.  This bill has been withdrawn.

HB 499, Natural Resources – Deer Bow Hunting Season – End Date.   This bill would requireDNR to establish a deer bow hunting season which would remain open until the Saturday following January 30.  HB 499 was heard by Environmental Matters on February 20 and has the support of the Maryland Farm Bureau.  DNR is opposed to this bill because it requiresthem to establish hunting seasons.  DNR stated that they need to be able to quickly react to changing numbers of deer and that cannot happen if the season is specified in law.  Other than DNR, no one offered testimony in opposition to HB 499.

HB 543, Carroll County – Deer Hunting.   HB 543 was introduced by the Carroll County Delegation and would authorize/allow DNR to regulate deer hunting in Carroll County from the first Sunday in October through the second Sunday in January.  DNR would probably just allow two, maybe three, additional weekends during that time period.  There would not be hunting all week during that period.  The bill was heard in Environmental Matters on February 27.  Maryland Farm Bureau, DNR, and Western Maryland Sportsmen’s Association testified in support.  There was no opposition.  This bill passed and became law.

The Maryland General Assembly’s website, www.mlis.state.md.us, is packed with all sorts of information.  You can find status of legislation, bill hearings, legislators’ biographical information, contact information and much, much more.

How To Get A Group Furbearer Permit for Your Club

GROUP PERMIT

Designated representatives of fox organizations can now obtain the $10 Group Permit that covers their members and guests any of the following ways:

  • On-line 24/7 at http://www.wildlifelicense.com/md/. Accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover.
  • Toll free by phone at 1-800-918-2870. Accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover.
  • Purchased at any of the 320 hunting and fishing license vendors around the state. Wal-Mart is a vendor as are most sporting goods dealers. The names of local vendors can be obtained by calling toll free 1-866-623-344-8889 or on-line athttp://www.dnr.state.md.us/service/netag2.asp.

Shortly thereafter, Group Permit purchasers will receive a letter and report form from DNR. The report form is for listing the names, addresses and email addresses of those individuals using the privileges of the permit throughout the permit year (time of purchase to July 1 of the following year). It must be completed by the permittee and returned to DNR no later than September 1 of the current year.

Clubs required to have Furbearer Permits

As of the 2006-2007 hunting and trapping season, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires Furbearer Permits for individuals wishing to hunt, chase, trap, or pursue furbearers. This permit is also required for individuals that are participating in unarmed fox chasing. All participants in these activities, except unarmed fox chasers, must also possess a hunting license. Additionally, non-residents must obtain a non-resident trapping license.

“The new permit will allow us to monitor the participation and potential impacts of individuals who utilize Maryland’s furbearer resource,” said Paul Peditto, Director of DNR’s Wildlife & Heritage Service.” “The trapping and chasing community should be commended for helping WHS design a furbearer permit. Data from this permit system will help strengthen our scientific foundations for future decision making which should ensure the long term viability of these outdoor pursuits.”

There will be two general types of permits available. An Individual Permit will apply to trappers or hunters that pursue furbearers individually or in non-organized groups and will cost $5.00. A Group Permit can be obtained by organized furbearer chasing or hunting groups with the approval of DNR. Members and/or guests of an organized group that possesses a Group Permit are covered by this permit and are not required to possess Individual Permits to engage in chasing or hunting activities while participating in group sponsored events. The fee for a Group Furbearer Permit is $10.00.

Beginning August 1, 2007 any individual that intends to trap furbearers must meet one of the following conditions: (1) complete a DNR certified trapper education course prior to purchasing a Furbearer Permit on or after August 1, 2007, or (2) possess a Furbearer Permit prior to August 1, 2007. The 2nd provision allows a 1-year grandfathering period for existing trappers to purchase a Furbearer Permit prior to August 1, 2007 without completing the mandatory trapper education course. Trappers that purchase a Furbearer Permit during this period (08/1/06-07/31/07) will be exempted from the trapper education requirement during future years. Trapper education courses will be offered at various locations throughout the state commencing in 2007.

“The time had come for trappers to become involved in a course of instruction. The trapping community should be commended for not only including the instructional component in this regulatory change during our deliberations but agreeing to assist in administering the course-work.” Peditto added.

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland’s forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland’s effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state’s number one environmental priority. Learn more atwww.dnr.maryland.gov

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MAWC has been working with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure that our sport is treated fairly in the new furbearer regulations.  Initially, DNR had proposed legislation that would have required every fox chaser to have a license.  The bill also included educational and minimum age requirements.  MAWC opposed this and was successful in its defeat.  DNR came back months later and proposed the same language but through the regulatory process.  Again, MAWC objected and worked with DNR to create a fair, workable regulation.

2012 Final Legislative Report

SB 346, Harford County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays.   This bill has been passed by both houses and will most likely be signed into law by the Governor.

This bill adds Harford County to the list of counties that already allow Sunday deer hunting, as follows: Calvert County, Charles County, and St. Mary’s County, on the first Sunday of the bow hunting season in November and each Sunday in the deer firearms season.  It also adds Harford County to the list of counties (Allegany, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester) that already allow a person hunting deer on private property with a bow and arrow or crossbow during open season on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November.

SB 390/HB 129, Caroline County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays.  This legislation has been passed by both houses and will most likely be signed into law by the Governor.
This bill adds Caroline County to the list of counties that already allow Sunday deer hunting, as follows: Calvert County, Charles County, and St. Mary’s County, on the first Sunday of the bow hunting season in November and each Sunday in the deer firearms season.  It  also adds Caroline County to the list of counties (Allegany, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester) that already allow a person hunting deer on private property with a bow and arrow or crossbow during open season on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November.

HB 809, Prince George’s County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays.  This bill died without any action being taken.
This bill would have added Prince George’s County to the list of counties that already allow Sunday deer hunting, as follows:  Calvert County, Charles County, and St. Mary’s County, on the first Sunday of the bow hunting season in November and each Sunday in the deer firearms season.  It would also have added Prince George’s County to the list of counties (Allegany, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester) that already allow a person hunting deer on private property with a bow and arrow or crossbow during open season on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November.

HB 877, Cecil County – Deer Hunting,-Private Property-Sundays.  This bill passed the House but died in the Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
This bill would have added Cecil County to the list of counties that already allow Sunday deer hunting, as follows:  Calvert County, Charles County, and St. Mary’s County, on the first Sunday of the bow hunting season in November and each Sunday in the deer firearms season.  It would also have added Cecil  County to the list of counties (Allegany, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester) that already allow a person hunting deer on private property with a bow and arrow or crossbow during open season on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November.

HB 912, Domestic Animals – Pet and Animal Guardians.  This bill would change the term “owner” to “guardian” throughout Maryland law.  This bill was given an Unfavorable Report by the House Environmental Matters Committee.
 [Background: MAWC actively opposed this bill and presented written testimony to the Environmental Matters Committee.  Here’s the rationale for HB 912:  The bill sponsor Delegate Kach’s former legislative aide is now in law school and is taking a course on animal law.  He approached Del. Kach who thought this sounded like a good idea.  They both argued that HB 912 is meant to be a “cultural shift” in the way people look at their animals, i.e., owning a pet is not like owning a piano.  Then, Del. Kach told the committee that he has drawn up an amendment that defines “guardian” as “owner.”  Obviously, this amendment undoes what the bill does in the first place.
On the opposition side, the president of and the lobbyist for the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) testified for both  the MVMA and the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA).  The written testimony submitted by AVMA was excellent and comprehensive.  
The committee chair mentioned that she has received more emails on this bill than she ever received on other significant issues the Legislature has handled throughout her tenure as a delegate.]

HB 1052, Natural Resources-Suspension of Hunting Licenses and Privileges.   This bill has passed both houses and will most likely be signed into law by the Governor.
This is the third year this bill has been introduced.  Originally, the bill would have prevented hunters who have been twice convicted of state or federal hunting violations from hunting, trapping, pursuing game, or chasing fox or other furbearers anywhere in the state.  Background:  Per MAWC’s request, the bill sponsor, Delegate Beitzel, amended the bill by striking “chase fox.”  MAWC presented written testimony supporting the bill with the above amendment to the committee at the bill hearing on March 7.

HB 1419, Natural Resources – Hunting Licenses and Stamps.   This bill was killed by the full House. This bill would have raised the cost of hunting licenses and stamps. The original bill added an alternative Consolidated Hunting and Trapping License at a cost of $95.  This new license would require no further stamps, etc.

HB 1446, Somerset and Worcester Counties – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays. This bill has passed both houses and will most likely be signed into law by the Governor.  
This bill adds Somerset and Worcester Counties to the list of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties to allow Sunday hunting the first Sunday in the bow hunting season in November and each Sunday in the deer firearms season.

HB 1448, Queen Anne’s County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays.   This bill passed the House but died in the Senate EHE Committee.

 This will would have allowed a person hunting deer on private property with a bow and arrow or crossbow during open season on the last three Sundays in October and the second Sunday in November and also would have added Queen Anne’s County to the list of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s to allow a person to hunt on the first Sunday in the bow hunting season in November and each Sunday in the deer firearms season.

 

The Maryland General Assembly’s website, www.mlis.state.md.us, is packed with all sorts of information.  You can find status of legislation, bill hearings, legislators’ biographical information, contact information and much, much more.

2010 MAWC Final Legislative Report

Your representatives on the MAWC Board of Directors have been busy for the past three months working on your behalf to defeat proposals that could potentially harm hound sports.

The Department of Natural Resources had two proposals on the table – one that would have extended the fox shooting season until February 15 of each year and another that would have moved the start of deer bow season from mid to early September each year.

Particular thanks go to Ed Fry, who is also a member of DNR’s Wildlife Advisory Council (WAC).  Ed voted against these regulation changes when they were presented to WAC.  In the end, DNR decided to respect the wishes of WAC and deep six these two proposals.  Thanks, too, to those of you who contacted DNR to voice your opposition.

Below is the final status of a number of bills of interest to MAWC members:

SB 21/HB 265, Criminal Law – Animal Cruelty – Penalties and Condition of Sentencing.  SB21 was introduced by Senators Robey (Howard County) and Raskin (Montgomery County) and would have increased the fine and sentence for anyone convicted of animal cruelty.  It would also leave to the judge’s discretion whether that person would ever be able to own an animal.  Neither bill passed.

SB 33, Natural Resources – Right to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Wild Game.   Senator Haines, who represents District 5 (Baltimore and Carroll Counties), introduced this bill as an amendment to the Maryland Constitution that would establish the constitutional right of every person to hunt, fish, or harvest wild game, subject to regulations and restrictions under laws that the General Assembly would enact.  This would be put to the voters of Maryland to decide in the next general election for their adoption or rejection.  This bill was given an Unfavorable Report.

SB 90, Secretary of Agriculture – Farm Quarantine.  MDA also requested this bill that will expand the authority of MDA to quarantine farms that MDA has reason to believe have been exposed to or contaminated by a radiological or chemical toxic material or agent or is infected or infested with a disease or pest.  It would restrict the use of farmland, livestock, crops, or farm products.  The bill includes penalties and safeguards as MDA would be required to consult with the Governor and the Secretaries of Health and Mental Hygiene and Department of the Environment before issuing quarantine.  This bill passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.

SB  259/HB 502, Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties – Deer Hunting.    This legislation would require the Department of Natural Resources to train rifle shooters to harvest deer in southern Maryland and would also open up further hunting season from January through March. SB 259 was greatly amended by the House Environmental Matters Committee so that it really read very much like HB 1518 (below).  The full House passed SB 259 but the Senate refused to concur.  The bill died.

SB 414/HB 248, Vehicle Laws – Equine Riding – Helmet Required for Minors.  This legislation would require anyone under the age of 18 to wear a properly secured safety helmet when riding on a highway, an equine-riding path, or any other property open to the public or used by the public.  It also provides for penalties.  Both SB 414 and HB 248 were given Unfavorable Reports by their assigned committees.

SB 978, Talbot County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays.  SB 978 would add Talbot County to the list of counties that already allow hunting on private property on certain Sundays.  SB 978 passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.

HB 246, Allegany and Garrett Counties – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sunday ,  was introduced by both the Allegany and Garrett County delegations.  It will allow bow and arrow hunting on the first Sunday of the deer firearms season.  Allegany and Garrett Counties will join the growing list of counties that already allow this.  HB 246 has passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.

HB 301, Calvert, and St. Mary’s Counties – Deer Hunting.  This bill would expand Sunday firearms season.  Currently, hunters are permitted to use firearms to hunt deer on the first Sunday of firearms season only in most Maryland counties.  This bill would allow gun hunting on the first Sunday of bow hunting season and each Sunday in the deer firearms season in Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties.  This bill was amended to include Charles County and to allow use of a crossbow.  It has passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.

HB 521/SB 798, Anne Arundel County – Trapping – Rabies Vector Species.  This legislation would allow property owners/renters to trap with a live trap – not a snare, body-gripping or leghold trap – rabies vector species (fox, raccoon, or skunk).  They then must promptly notify Anne Arundel County Animal Control of the capture and Animal Control would then take custody of the animal.  HB 521 was withdrawn by the sponsor and SB 798 was given an Unfavorable Report by the Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

HB 851, Talbot County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays.  This is a Talbot County Delegation bill that would allow bow hunting on Sunday.  As you may recall, “delegation” bills are generally passed because they are considered to be “local courtesy” since they apply only to particular counties and not to the entire state.  This bill passed and will become law upon the Governor’s signature.

HB 858, Montgomery County – Leghold or Body Gripping Traps – Prohibition, is a Montgomery County Delegation bill that would expand the prohibition of these traps.  Again, it is a “local courtesy” bill .  This bill ran out of time.

HB 877, Baltimore County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays, would add Baltimore County to the list of counties that already allow Sunday bow and gun hunting and would leave Carroll, Howard, Prince George’s and Baltimore City as the only jurisdictions where gun hunting on Sunday would be prohibited.  HB 877 was withdrawn.

HB 1207, Deer Hunting on Private Property on Sundays.  This bill was introduced by Delegate O’Donnelland would add Calvert County to the list of counties that already allow bow hunting on the last three Sundays in October and the first Sunday in November.  It would also allow a hunter to use a crossbow in all of the counties listed.  HB 1207 had a hearing but progressed no further.

HB 1512, Frederick County – Archery Hunting – Safety Zone, was introduced by the Frederick County Delegation and would extend the safety zone for 50 yards from a dwelling house, residence, church, or any other building or camp occupied by human beings. This bill was introduced last year and was given an Unfavorable Report.  HB 1512 passed and awaits the Governor’s signature.

HB 1518, Natural Resources – Deer Hunting – Sundays.  This bill was introduced by Delegate Holmes (Prince George’s County) and Delegate O’Donnell (Calvert County) and would allow the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to permit deer hunting from the first Sunday in October to the second Sunday in January of the following year in Maryland except in the counties of Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, or Prince George’s, and in Baltimore City.   DNR already has the authority to permit deer hunting six days a week all year long.  This bill would allow DNR to permit deer hunting on nine Sundays, as well.  HB 1518 was given an Unfavorable Report by the House Environmental Matters Committee. 

Remember that elections will be held this fall.  It is crucial in this day and age that you educate yourself about the people who will represent your interests in Annapolis and locally – and, of course, get out and vote!  This is the only way you can protect the rich equine and agricultural heritage we, as Marylanders, have.

The Maryland General Assembly’s website, www.mlis.state.md.us, is packed with all sorts of information.  You can find status of legislation, bill hearings, legislators’ biographical information, contact information and much, much more.

MAWC 2011 End of Session Report

Of the 2,353 bills introduced in the 2011 General Assembly session, 707 passed. Following is final action on bills of interest to MAWC:

SB 45/HB 129, Natural Resources – Deer Hunting – Sundays. This is the bill that would allow DNR to establish Sunday hunting dates without legislative action. SB 45 was given an Unfavorable Report. No action was taken on HB 129. Since this is the second consecutive year that similar legislation was introduced and killed, I doubt it will be brought up again, at least not in the next several years.

SB 425/HB 294, Abuse or Neglect of Animals – Use of Rifle, Handgun, or Other Weapons – Penalties. This bill was introduced because someone shot a dog at an Anne Arundel County park a few months ago. Both bills had hearings but since no action was taken on either, they died in their respective committees.

SB 468/HB 625, Carroll County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays. These are local courtesy bills. This legislation passed and will most likely be signed into law by the Governor.

SB 839/HB 940, Counties – Kennel Licenses – Requirements for Breeders. This legislation does not affect MAWC’s activities. However, I reported on it because of all the interest shown in it. Its provisions are:

  • A person must get a kennel license from local licensing agency if the person: Owns or has custody of 15 or more unspayed female dogs over the age of six months kept for the purpose of breeding the dogs and selling their offspring – and, sells dogs from six or more litters in a year.
  • It goes on to require each county to collect and maintain a record of each kennel license issued in the county and report to the state once a year. Counties may establish addition fees to cover their costs.

This legislation passed and will most likely be signed into law by the Governor.

HB 301, Natural Resources – Suspension of Hunting Licenses and Privileges. This bill included “chasing fox” in the list of activities in which a person, who has been twice convicted of a hunting violation, cannot participate for a certain length of time. This bill was passed by the House of Delegates. The Senate EHE Committee had a hearing and took no further action on it. It’s dead. This is another bill that has now been introduced two consecutive years and probably will not be introduced again in the next several years at least.

HB 540, Montgomery County – Leghold or Body-Gripping Traps – Prohibition. This bill had a hearing but the committee took no action – it’s dead.

HB 994, Harford County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays. This bill passed the House 122-9 but died in the Senate.

HB 1284, Cecil County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays. This bill was dead on arrival.

 

The Maryland General Assembly’s website, www.mlis.state.md.us, is packed with all sorts of information.  You can find status of legislation, bill hearings, legislators’ biographical information, contact information and much, much more.

MAWC Final Legislative Report 2009

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.

2008 Final Legislative Update

The 2008 General Assembly session ended at midnight on April 7.  Below is final outcome of bills previously reported upon:

HB 134, Vehicle Laws – Transporting Pets in Trucks and Trailers.  This bill passed the House of Delegates with amendments.  After a hearing in the Senate, the bill died.

HB 655, Natural Resources – Hunting Licenses – Minimum Age.  This bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.

HB 834, Consumer Protection – Fur Labeling Requirements for Articles of Clothing.  After a hearing in the House, the committee gave this bill an unfavorable report.

HB 938, Montgomery County – Deer Hunting on Private Lands – Effective Date, passed and is expected to be signed into law by the Governor.

HB 1482/SB 878, Harford County – Deer Hunting on Private Property – Sundays.   As expected, this bill passed and should also be signed by the Governor.

This will be the last Legislative Update for 2008.  The 2009 session of the General Assembly will begin on the second Wednesday of January 2009.

2008 Regulatory Success

Important Update

MAWC successful in fighting new DNR regulations!

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced on Wednesday, March 19, that it is withdrawing its proposal to extend the gun hunting and trapping seasons for red and gray fox due to overwhelming opposition.

This potentially harmful change was stopped dead in its tracks thanks to your MAWC Board of Directors, MAWC’s lobbyist, and last but not least to the many MAWC members who took the time to send their comments to DNR.

Regulatory Alert

March 6, 2008

Dear Maryland Foxchasers:

This is to alert you to the fact that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently in the process of adopting its hunting and trapping regulations for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 hunting seasons.

DNR is considering a potentially harmful regulation change that would extend the gun hunting and trapping of red and gray foxes by another two weeks in some jurisdictions in Maryland.  This proposed extension would endanger the fox population by stretching into the gestation / birthing period for foxes. Hunters, and certainly trappers, cannot distinguish between a dog fox and a vixen nor can they determine if a vixen is pregnant.  If they kill a pregnant vixen, they are also killing an average of five pups.

There is no overpopulation of fox in the State of Maryland that would require expanding the hunting and trapping season.  The current regulations seem to work, so why change them.

The Maryland Association for Wildlife Conservation (MAWC) is working hard to ensure that these changes are not adopted but we need your help!  DNR is accepting public comments until March 21 at 4:00 p.m.  Please feel free to incorporate some of the concerns referenced above or include some of your own. We urge you to weigh in on this matter.  You can submit your comments via email, postal mail, telephone, or fax:

Paul A. Peditto, Director, DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service, Tawes State Office Building E-1, Annapolis, MD 21401.  Fax:  410-260-8596.  Email:  customerservice@dnr.state.md.us.  Phone:  410-260-8540 or 877-620-8DNR, ext 8540.

Sincerely,
Albert J.A. “Jay” Young
President
Maryland Association for Wildlife Conservation