MARYLAND NURSERY AND LANDSCAPE ASSOCIATION
Promoting the use of ornamental plants, products and services.  The association supports all constituent groups of the horticulture industry.


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March 6, 2003

The "The Root of the Matter" is a periodic publication from the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association. Its purpose is to disseminate information to our members on a timely basis, in between publication of The Free State Nursery and Landscape News. This news bulletin will be e-mailed to those members who have supplied the MNLA office an e-mail address. If you prefer your issue to be e-mailed, please let us know at mnacma@aol.com.

Appointment of Lynn Buhl as the Governor’s Nominee for Secretary of the Environment

Joining the Maryland Farm Bureau, we ask all members to contact their local Senators today to urge support for Governor Ehrlich’s nominee to Secretary of the Environment, Lynn Buhl.  Governor Ehrlich brought forth Ms. Buhl as the nominee for this position, believing her qualified and supportive of his views that there should be a cooperative relationship between business and the environment. This philosophy is a welcome change to Maryland’s agriculture community.  The full Senate is scheduled to vote on Ms. Buhl’s nomination on Friday, March 7th. The Senate Executive Nominations Committee failed to support Ms. Buhl’s nomination earlier this week, arguing that she is too soft on business’ responsibility to the environment. Governor Ehrlich and his administration believe otherwise.

Please call your state Senator today. You may call (800) 492-7122, and asked to be connected to your senator’s office.

Maryland Green Industry Council (MaGIC)/Legislative Update

There are currently several bills before the Maryland State Legislature that we have been following, along with the assistance of our lobbyist, American Joe Miedusiewski. If you would like to review the text of any of these bills, go to the MD General Assembly website:

http://mlis.state.md.us. Click on bill info and status. Then type in the bill number with the format HB or SB followed by the bill number.

We need your direct input into how the following legislation would impact your business.

Please contact Jim McWilliams (jim.maxalea@mycomcast.com or 410-377-7500), Walt Wicklein (waw62@earthlink.net or 410-823-1335) or Vanessa Finney (mnacma@aol.com or 410-823-8684) with your comments as soon as possible. With only about a month left in the legislative session, we need to be well informed and able to respond quickly.

Senate Bill 540 - Concerning Use and Access of Restricted Use Pesticide.

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This bill would require employers to conduct criminal background checks; prohibits certain persons from using, applying, etc. restricted use pesticides; provides civil penalties for violations; requires employers to obtain a job history report for each current and prospective employee who will use or have access to restricted use pesticide; requires MDA to establish a tracking system of pesticide purchases . . .

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The estimated cost associated with each background check is $200+. This does not include additional costs assoc. with maintaining records, etc. How will this impact you? Let us know.

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Our position – opposed.

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Hearing date – Friday, March 7. MaGIC is prepared to testify.

Senate Bill 617 – Concerning the Suspension of Enforcement of Nutrient Management penalties

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This bill would extend the period of nutrient management compliance enforcement from June 1, 2003 to September 30, 2004

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Our position - We support this bill.

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Hearing Date - March 7.

Senate Bill 643 – Concerning Sales and Use Tax Exemptions on Ag Products

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This bill would make non-exempt from sales and use tax the sales (for ag. purposes) of the following items: fertilizer, fungicide, herbicide, and insecticide.  This means we would have to pay sales tax on these products.  MaGIC believes that these products are input to wholesale processing and, as such, should not be taxed.
In preparing our testimony, it would be helpful to have supporting data from you, indicating the estimated costs of such tax to your business.  Individual company names will not be disclosed.

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Our position - opposed. MaGIC is prepared to testify.

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Hearing date - March 12.

House Bill 1076 – Concerning approval of the use of surge brakes in intrastate travel

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This bill would allow the use of surge brakes on recreational and commercial vehicles in intrastate travel.

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The Maryland Department of Transportation supports the bill with the amendment to exclude commercial vehicles from using surge brakes.  The MDOT's rationale - surge brakes are illegal on commercial vehicles in interstate travel.  This bill would, as written, support a double standard, as compared to federal law.

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Our position - not yet established - we would like to hear from you, regarding how such a law would affect your business.  Do you support the use of surge brakes for commercial vehicles in intrastate travel?

Follow-Up on Legislation Previously Communicated

House Bill 503 – Concerning establishment of Maryland Pesticide Advisory Council

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As of 3/6 there has been no action by the legislature.

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Our position - Opposed - The MD Department of Agriculture already has a pesticide advisory council that has effectively operated for 13 years.  The proposed new council's make-up is heavily weighted with members from the anti-pesticide network.

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Hearing Date - February 26.

House Bill 1053 – Concerning the Increase of MD Sales and Use Tax Rate

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This bill would raise the MD sales and use tax by 20% - from  5% to 6%

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Our position - opposed. 

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Hearing date - not yet scheduled

We will continue monitoring all proposed legislation to determine its impact on Maryland’s Green Industry. We will continue to keep you informed of all issues that may affect your business. We ask for your feed back in helping us to represent our industry. If you have comments or concern about any proposed legislation, please contact our office.

Contact your legislators: We encourage you to contact your local legislators to make them aware of how proposed legislation will affect your business. You can contact your legislators through via telephone, U.S. mail or e-mail. The MD General Assembly website (http://mlis.state.md.us) provides any contact information you need. You can even type in your zip code to find out who your representatives are. If you don’t have access to the web, and would like this information, please contact the office.

On the Water Front

MaGIC officers and our lobbyist, American Joe Miedusiewski, have been working to get the remaining Level I water restrictions, still imposed in Central Maryland, lifted. Up to this point, Baltimore City officials have fought the lifting because Prettyboy and Liberty reservoirs, the City’s primary water supply, were significantly below capacity. With the season’s record snows and rains, talks have resumed, as the reservoirs have filled. We are cautiously optimistic that the restrictions will be lifted soon. We will pass on any information relative to these water restrictions, as soon as it is available.

Miscellaneous

Have you sent any of your plant material to unusual or famous destinations? Is so, please let the MNLA office know. The MD Agriculture Education Foundation is putting together a mobile display trailer, showcasing Maryland’s agriculture. Since horticulture is the number two commodity group within MD agriculture, we have been very involved in the display planning process. We are looking to include unusual facts about horticulture in this display.

Congratulations to the following MNLA members who took home awards from this year’s Maryland State Home and Garden Show:

Quinn’s Kingsville Nurseries, Inc. – Division II

Kroh’s Nursery, Inc. – Division IV and Best in Show.

Also, kudos’ to John Mays and Kingsdene Nurseries, last year’s Best in Show winner, for the awesome entrance display garden.

P.O. Box 726 - Brooklandville, Maryland 21022
Phone: 410-823-8684  Fax: 410-296-8288   E-mail: mnacma@aol.com