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PMT impact study requirement part of crossover deadline

3/20/14 | By Sheila R. Cherry, Associate Editor

MARYLAND—Members of the Eastern Shore Delegation were successful in including legislation that would place an environmental impact study requirement on a controversial phosphorus management tool proposed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture before any money is appropriated, by the General Assembly’s March 17 Opposite Chamber Bill Crossover Date.

The Opposite Chamber Bill Crossover Date is the deadline on which each chamber must send a bill to the opposite chamber for it to pass favorably that session.

SB 027, which was pre-filed in the senate by Sen. Jim Mathias (D-38) to ensure early placement on the docket, and was introduced as HB 193 in the House by Del. Norman Conway (D-38B) in January. Conway, who serves as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that House officials were working on the budget language of the proposal. He said if passed it would ensure that a study on how the regulatory tool could impact the local poultry industry prior to it being funded.

Members of the ESD met with Gov. Martin O’Malley earlier this year to seek protections from any inadvertent negative economic impacts the PMT might have on the Eastern Shore’s poultry industry.

Conway said he felt it was very important that both policy and funding of the PMT “go hand in hand” and that he would push to ensure the legislature’s budget, tax and appropriations committees share oversight with the policy committees for the PMT’s implementation.  

A study of the PMT is anticipated to be completed by July.

Conway and Mathias have also cross filed a bill that would give State Highway Administration officials the discretion to increase the speed limits on divided highways in individual jurisdictions, from 55 miles per hour to 65 mph, if conditions permit.

Conway attended a pedestrian safety meeting in Berlin in November where local citizens expressed concerns about the high rates of speed motorists were traveling along U.S. Route 113 and the dangers of the lack of a crosswalk where two young brothers were struck at an intersection along that highway.

In response to requests for enhanced safety measures for pedestrians and motorists, Conway’s proposed crosswalks and lower speed limits at intersections in populated areas along the highways.

He also amended the proposal to add a public notification requirement for jurisdictions that were considering pursuing the option for a speed limit increase and a provision that would require a 45-day public comment period and hearing before the change could be implemented.

Also, Conway said the House was scheduled to take up the state’s proposed operational budget on Monday, March 24, and legislators anticipated the proposal would be up for a third reading by Friday, March 28.

Delegate Michael McDermott (R-38B) said in a separate interview his proposal HB 234, which would authorize prosecution for individuals who make bomb threats by telephone or other electronic devices, and the pre-filed proposal HB 31, also known as “Alex’s Law,” which would allow victims of crime to make an impact statement to the court before a sentence is delivered, had also met the Assembly’s cross-over deadline.

HB 234, which unanimously passed through the House is awaiting a hearing in the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 20, McDermott said.

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