MARYLAND NURSERY AND LANDSCAPE ASSOCIATION
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April 4, 2003             Issue 4                           

 Maryland Green Industry Council (MaGIC)/Legislative Update

As the Maryland legislative session draws to a close, we thought this would be a good time to report on the status of the bills that our industry followed this year. 

Bills that are still open – (some will ultimately fail due to lack of action):

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

  • 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  . . .
  • The estimated cost associated with each background check is $200+.  This does not include additional costs assoc. with maintaining records, etc. 
  • Our position – opposed.
  • Hearing date – Friday, March 7.  MaGIC testified against. 

 

House Bill 420 – Concerning Pesticide Registration Fees.

  • This bill serves to alter the fees for registering a pesticide with the Secretary of Ag. (Distributors are required to register with the MDA each brand or product name, annually, before distributing it in the state of MD).
  • Raises annual fee to register or terminate a pesticide registration from $60 to $100.
  • Hearing date – Wed., Feb 19th 1:00.
  • Our position – none taken.

 

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

  • 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. 
  • Hearing Date – March 12.
  • Our position – opposed.  MaGIC testified.
  • Status – Received an unfavorable report from committee.  No action has been taken.

 

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

  • This bill would extend the period of nutrient management compliance enforcement from June 1, 2003 to September 30, 2004.
  • Hearing Date – March 7.
  • Our position – support.
  • Status – listed as incomplete, has not passed, nor been withdrawn.

 

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

  • This bill would allow the use of surge brakes on recreational and commercial vehicles in intrastate travel.
  • 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.
  • Hearing date – March 19.
  • Our position – none taken.
  • Status – received unfavorable ruling from House Environmental Matters Committee.

 

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

  • This bill would raise the MD sales and use tax by 20% - from 5% to 6%.
  • Hearing date – not yet scheduled.
  • Our position – opposed.
  • Status – open.

 

House Bill 659 – To create a task force on water resource management.

·        This bill would establish a Task Force on Water Resource Management; requiring examination of management, development, conservation, and protection issues relevant to ground and surface water; requires submission of specified reports to the Gov. and GA.

·        Hearing date – April 1.

·        Our position – opposed.  A similar commission is already in existence.

·        Status – open; the similar bill in the Senate failed.

 

Bills that passed:

 

House Bill 393/Senate Bill 715  - Concerning the amounts of criminal penalties applicable to and enforcement of laws regarding sediment control, storm water management and wetlands program violations, etc.

  • This bill serves to impose civil penalties for violations of sediment control, storm water management and related control programs.  It also allows the court to order restoration of the area unlawfully disturbed. 
  • Hearing date – Feb 20th.
  • Status – passed.

 

Bills that failed or were withdrawn:

 

House Bill 503 – Concerning establishment of Maryland Pesticide Advisory Council

  • Hearing Date – February 26
  • 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. 
  • Status - withdrawn.

 

House Bill 80 – Concerning the applicability of Nutrient Management Plans.

  • This bill serves to increase the minimum gross income of an agricultural operation subject to nutrient management plan requirements.  Old law minimum was $2,500; proposed new minimum is $10,000.  This means those ag operations who gross less than $10,000 annually would not have to file nutrient management plans.
  • Our position – We take no opposing position. 
  • Status – failed.

 

Senate Bill 114 – Concerning the establishment of additional requirements for obtaining a permit for cutting down or trimming roadside trees.

  • Based on our review of this bill, and input of the Maryland Arborist Association, this bill has no impact on the industry.  It is reinforcement of current law.
  • Our position – We take no opposing position.
  • Status – failed.

 

Senate Bill 630 – To create a task force on water resource management.

·        This bill would establish a Task Force on Water Resource Management; requiring examination of management, development, conservation, and protection issues relevant to ground and surface water; requires submission of specified reports to the Gov. and GA.

·        Hearing date – April 1.

·        Our position – opposed.  A similar commission is already in existence.

·        Status - failed.

 

Miscellaneous

President Jim McWilliams is coordinating the production of a PowerPoint (computerized slide show) program that will be used to promote the MNLA.  If you have any pictures – electronic or not (prints can be scanned), please forward them to Jim at Maxalea.  Jim is looking for all sorts of pictures – nursery yards, drought effects, employees in action, etc.  Jim can be reached at (410) 377-7500 or jim.maxalea@mycomcast.com.

 

Calendar items:

·        May 2 – MD Motor Carrier Industry Forum – sponsored by MDOT.  Contact 1-888-713-1414.  To be held at Wor-Wic Comm. College. Seminar will cover topics such as:

o       Changes to Fed/State rules and regulations.

o       Training/education

o       Safety and security

o       Incident response

·        June 12 – Field Day at Waverly Farm – registrations will be mailed soon.

·        July 2 – Better Container and Field Nursery Production Conf. – MNLA is co-sponsoring with Maryland Coop Extension.  Contact Suzanne Klick (301) 596-9413.

·        July 10 – Bus Trip with MGGA – on hold for this year.

 

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