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April 15, 2003             Issue 5

Maryland Green Industry Council (MaGIC)/Legislative Update

Two weeks ago, "The Root of the Matter" reported on industry-relevant legislation as it stood just before the close of the 2003 legislative session.  Now that the session has closed, we've updated that report for final 2003 legislative action.   

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

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

  • Status - passed     

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

  • This bill would establish a Task Force on Water Resources 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 - 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Bills that failed or were withdrawn: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  • Status - withdrawn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 $2,400; proposed new minimum is $10,000.  This means those ag operations who gross less than $10,000 annually would not have a 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 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, ets.

  • Our position -opposed.

  • Status - died.

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.

  • Hearing Date - March 12.

  • Our position - opposed.  MaGIC testified.

  • Status - Received an unfavorable report from committee. Died.

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.

  • Our position - support.

  • Status - died.

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; died.

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 - died.

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:

  • Changes to Fed/State rules and regs.

  • Training/education

  • Safety and security

  • Incident response

June 12 - MNLA Field Day at Waverly Farm - registrations will be mailed soon.

July 2 - Better Field and Container Nursery Production Methods Seminar - MNLA is co-sponsoring with Maryland Cooperative Extension.

Registration - $25 including dinner.  MNLA members $20 if registered by June 30th.  Topics include:

  • Trickle Irrigation

  • Tree Roots: Keeping them healthy in the nursery and during transplanting process

  • New plants and Second Looks - Plant selections from the National Arboretum

  • Nursery tree production in large containers: Amaroo Tree Container System

  • Tree fertilization rates and the impact on insect damage to nursery trees

  • And more...

contact information:  Suzanne Klick, CMREC (301) 593-9413

September 11 - MNLA 4th Annual Management Dinner - details available shortly.

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