The 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly convened at noon on Wednesday, January 8. As of today, 14 days into the session, over 350 bills have been filed on on the House side, while over 375 have been filed in the Senate. We can expect close to 2,000 bills this session – as is true for most sessions. Most bills will fail.
Already popping up is the first of what is sure to be yet another onslaught of Sunday Hunting bills. Filed last week, Senate Bill 191 and House Bill 197 seek to expand hunting on private lands to certain Sundays in Anne Arundel County.
While the Maryland Horse Council does have a lobbyist to work on state-wide bills, county-only bills really must be tackled on the grassroots level, within the county itself, by county residents. In Anne Arundel County, former MHC president Steuart Pittman has grabbed the bit and is taking the lead in rallying grassroots opposition to the bills. Today’s post from the MHC Anne Arundel County Forum:
It is a tired battle that has been fought in county after county and also at the state level. Should there remain a weekend day during deer season in which the woods and trails are free of hunters?
If you trail ride, fox hunt, or even walk the trails to get some exercise, you know that it’s not safe in the woods when hunters are out, even when they are just across the property line from where you happen to be. The deer season runs from the first Sunday in October to the second Sunday in January and many of the farms where we have permission to ride also have given permission to hunters to help reduce the deer population.
Anne Arundel County’s Senator Ed Reilly and Delegate Bob Costa have introduced a bill that would end the compromise reached many years ago between hunters and outdoor recreation interests. It would make our county an exception to the state law and allow Sunday hunting during deer season.
Maryland Horse Council and Anne Arundel Horse Council have proposed to Delegate Costa and Senator Reilly that they withdraw the bill and convene a group to propose alternative methods to effectively reduce the deer population in our county. Matching qualified hunters with landowners and extending the season are two proposals on the table.
It is time to let our delegates and senators know that this is a bill that affects their constituents.
We need you to make phone calls and send emails. They keep a tally of supporters and opponents of their bills. Let them know where you stand immediately.
Senator Ed Reilly (410) 841-3568 email@example.com
Delegate Bob Costa 410-841-3551 firstname.lastname@example.org
This web page has all of the county delegates listed with phone and email: Anne Arundel County Delegation
This web page has all of our county’s state senators with phone and email: Anne Arundel County Senators
The Anne Arundel County Delegation meets this Friday 1/24 to consider the bill and will vote on whether to support it next Friday 1/31. We requested an opportunity to speak at the county delegation meeting but have so far been denied. It is essential, however, that you contact the members of the county delegation at the two links above for delegates and senators, preferably today and tomorrow.
If we fail to convince Delegate Costa and Senator Reilly to withdraw the bill we will need to show the strength of our numbers at the hearings. Put these on your calendar and keep checking this County Forum for updates.
Senate Hearing on SB 0191 January 28, 1:45pm, Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee
House Hearing on HB 0197 January 29, 2pm, Environmental Matters
It should be noted that these are the times that the hearings begin, not what time the bill is necessarily heard. It often takes hours for legislators to work their way through the day’s agenda.)
As of today, no other Sunday Hunting bills have been introduced…but just wait! As history is prone to repeat itself, we are sure to see more of these county bills this session.
Click here to read about the history of Sunday Hunting Legislation in Maryland, and the attempts by mounted equestrians to stop it.