On Tuesday, Senator Bailey presented four bills to the Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee to protect our waterways and Marylanders who make a living as watermen. Two of the bills pertained to fishing. The first, Senate Bill 455 – Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License and Recreational Fishing – Pilot Program and Task Force would establish a pilot program and a task force to work towards obtaining more accurate data to estimate the number of fish caught in Maryland’s waterways by recreational anglers. The second, Senate Joint Resolution 6, would prohibit the ocean going fishing ships working for the Omega Corporation, which is owned by the Cooke Corporation in Canada from continuing to overharvest the Chesapeake Bay’s bait fish that are the future of our State’s fish populations. These practices are already prohibited in Maryland but are allowed in the Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
The two other bills were focused on oyster harvesting and requiring those responsible for leaking sewage into our State’s waterways to pay to repair the damage caused by this pollution. Senate Bill 580 would require that the owner/operator of a wastewater treatment plant that is responsible for a sewage spill, discharge, or overflow that results in an emergency order that closes a waterway to shellfish harvesting pay damages to the commercial harvest license holders who were affected by the closure order. This bill is a result of the sewage leak that closed portions of the Potomac River around St. George’s Island to shellfish harvesting and is intended to protect both the public and commercial watermen in the event of future closures of this kind.
Senator Bailey also presented Senate Bill 876, which would establish a surcharge on civil penalties imposed for the discharge of pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries and give this revenue to a new Oyster Repletion Fund to finance the repletion of natural oyster bars in waters impacted by water pollution violations.
This week, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to limit the use of PFAS, a chemical known to be responsible for causing cancer, in Maryland. This bill is a priority for Maryland’s firefighters who encounter PFAS in numerous ways, including in firefighting foam as well as in their gear. The legislation was named after George “Walter” Taylor, a firefighter from District 29 who passed away from a form of cancer that has been linked to PFAS. Senator Bailey is proud to have supported our firefighters by co-sponsoring and voting for this legislation and to have introduced Mr. Taylor’s widow Christine to the Senate after the bill passed.
Protecting Threatened Species
Today, the Senate passed Senate Bill 381 – Natural Resources – Wildlife Trafficking Prevention, an important bill to eliminate the market for illegal ivory and other products from threatened animals. Passing this bill is another tool in the toolbox that will aid in saving these animals from extinction. Senator Bailey had the opportunity to work on this legislation and voted to pass it.
More Transparency for Historic St. Mary’s City
This week, the Senate considered legislation to apply an enhanced version of the Maryland’s Open Meetings Act to more State agencies. The bill requires these agencies to post each open meeting agenda, as well as a summary of any finalized documents, written testimony from the public, and other materials that the public body will vote on during an open meeting at least 48 hours in advance. These agencies will also be required to post meeting minutes from the portions of a meeting that were held in open session not more than 2 business days after the minutes are approved and provide live video streaming of each portion of a meeting that is held in open session. Senator Bailey was successful in adding an amendment to this bill to ensure that this increased transparency would also apply to the Historic St. Mary’s City Commission so that our residents and all Marylanders can have more insight into the work of this important Commission.
Meeting with Commerce Secretary
On Thursday, Senator Bailey met with Commerce Secretary Michael Gill to discuss matters of importance to the economy of Southern Maryland. They will be scheduling a meeting for Secretary Gill to visit Historic St. Mary’s City and see other economic development opportunities in District 29 following the legislative session.
State House Mask Mandate Lifted
Please be aware if you are coming to Annapolis that, as of Monday, March 7, masks will no longer be required in the State House or in any of the legislative buildings.