APRIL 6, 2011: 5 DAYS & COUNTING
The 2011 session of the Maryland General Assembly will formally adjourn on Monday, April 11. What gets done is done; what isn’t gets scrapped and it is back to the drawing board. If a bill has not been voted on by both chambers by April 11, then it is officially dead, the reset button has been hit and supporters will have to submit new bills for 2012.
When the April print edition of The Equiery went to press, very little had changed from the early and mid-March updates here on our news blog. But by the last week of March, things were rockin’ and rollin’. Below is a quick update on the status of some of the legislation we have been following this year. If we included something in March and you don’t see it here, it is safe to say that nothing has happened with it, and that it is unlikely that anything will happen with it at this point (but you never know in politics). However, racing-related legislation is not included in today’s summary; look for it on equiery.com/blog later this week.
Click here for the list of March news blog articles on equiery.com.
As of Wednesday, April 6, 2011, the only Sunday Hunting bill that looks like it still has legs is Senate Bill 468, which passed the House 124-12. This bill will allow Sunday hunting on private land in Carroll County.
Rural Legacy Threat
Equestrians in Baltimore County have been actively opposing the establishment of a power station in their Rural Legacy area, and have thus been encouraging all Maryland equestrians to support House Bill 1241, which would prohibiting construction of a new shopping center, electric power station or substation, or other nonagricultural use in a Rural Legacy Area if the new use will exceed five acres.
The bill was heard on March 23, but no action has since been reported. Click here for background.
House Bill 1129 would have codified Maryland’s 300 years of legal precedence, affirming contributory negligence as the legal standard for liability in Maryland (a position supported by both the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Maryland Horse Council). The bill was scheduled to be heard in early March, but there has been no action on it. It is probably safe to say that it is dead.
Estate Tax: Excluding Ag Property
House Bill 721 likewise appears to be dead. This farmer-friendly bill would have altered the determination of the Maryland estate tax under specified circumstances to exclude from the value of the gross estate up to $5,000,000 of the value of qualified agricultural property; providing that the Maryland estate tax on qualified agricultural property may not exceed 5% of the amount by which the value of specified agricultural property exceeds $5,000,000; etc.
Prohibiting Animal Cruelty Convicts from Animal Ownership (what we like to call “The Michael Vick Law”)
House Bill 227, after passing unanimously out of the House on March 10, passed the Senate unanimously on March 31. Isn’t that refreshingly reasonable, to not allow someone who has been convicted of animal cruelty to own another animal, no matter how famous they are?!
Violence or Cruelty towards Pets & Service Animals
On March 16, we reported that House Bill 407 appeared stalled, but on March 23, it roared back into life, passing the House 127–10, crossing over into the Senate and were it was passed unanimously on March 31. The action with the House version of this bill seems to have backburnered the Senate version (747), but it does not really matter, as they both do pretty much the same thing.
No Hoof, No Horse: SB 32 Gallops Down The Stretch on Four Good Feet
The common-sense Senate Bill 32, which merely clarifies in the vet law that farriers can not only shoe (as the law currently states), but they can also legally trim without the oversight of a vet. Well, of course, we say, “no duh!” But apparently a very, very narrow reading of existing law prohibited trimming, so the law had to be fixed. The bill is out of the House and in the Senate, where it was heard last Wednesday, March 30. No report since then, but come on…really, this is just legalese clean-up.
Allowing Vet Techs To Be Vet Techs
Another common-sense bill to clean up the language in the vet law, SB 322 passed out of the Senate on February 25 and has been lingering in the House Environmental Matters, and was scheduled to be heard last Wednesday, March 30. Stay tuned.
Lightening The $$ Load for 2-Horse Trailers
SB 497, which would establish a new class of vehicles for livestock trailers weighing a max gross weight of 5,000 pounds and lower our registration fees, zoomed through the Senate, where it was passed unanimously just in time to cross the centerline into the House, where it will be heard Tuesday, April 5.
Critical Farms Preservation Fund
House Bill 214 is being met with approval from both sides of the aisle, both sides of the House, as the bill was passed unanimously in both chambers.
Click here to check bill status.
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