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2024 Legislative Recap!

This past Monday (April 8th, 2024) was the final day of the 2024 Maryland General Assembly legislative session, also known as “Sine Die”.  


Assateague Coastal Trust works tirelessly every legislative session to ensure that a voice is heard representing the clean water rights of residents and visitors to Maryland’s Worcester, Summerset, and Wicomico Counties.  We had many victories this year, and we are thrilled to share some of the results of the 2024 legislative session with you.  Here are a few highlights which may impact you and our shared waterways in the near future.


Additionally, we have included some of the shortcomings of this session.  Not every bill passes, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a step in the right direction.  We will return to the floor of the statehouse next year and work hard to see these bills brought to life!



Photo:  Assateague Coastkeeper Taylor Swanson alongside Sen. Sarah Elfreth and panelists who testified on SB 0932 / HB 1042 “Maryland Agricultural BMP Best in Show Program”.

 

ACT's Priority Bills.

The following four bills were some of our primary focuses this year.  In total, ACT took a “clean-water-stance” on more than 15 pieces of legislation!


*Note, bills that have “passed” still must be signed into law by the Governor! 


Check out some of what passed and how you can help in the 2025 legislative session!

 


Clean Water Justice Act

Returning rights to individuals and specific groups (like ACT!) to participate in legal action protecting the environment and natural resources, especially regarding water quality and resources. This legislation helps protect your right to clean, drinkable, swimmable, and fishable water!


Click HERE to learn more.

Sponsored by Senator Augustine & Delegate Love

 


Vernal Pool Wetlands Protection Act of 2024

While it did not pass this year, we will return next year to continue the fight for protection for these crucial ecosystems!  


Vernal pools are vital habitat for a huge variety of native species, including many of our most imperiled amphibians (like the Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvanticus) and Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)). Additionally, these habitats provide water filtration services, keeping our streams, rivers, and bays clean!


Click HERE to learn more.

Sponsored by Delegates Hill, McComas, Taylor, Terrasa, and Williams.

 


Whole Watershed Act

This legislation aims to establish new regulations and oversight for stream restoration contractors, with some exceptions. By putting guardrails on stream restoration we can ensure they are done properly and without critical impairment of the waterway.


Additionally, this legislation will create a special fund, known as the Whole Watershed Fund, for the purpose of accelerating the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays and their watershed. This targeted approach to watershed restoration could be exactly the push needed to help some of our waterways!


Click HERE to learn more.

Sponsored by Senators Elfreth and Gazzone, and Delegates Love, Ivey, and Stein.

 


Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Surveys

This legislation helps the MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR) increase their ability to obtain surveys for Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV). These underwater plants are a crucial habitat for hundreds of species, act as a major carbon sink, and help to stabilize our shorelines.


This bill will enable the DNR to expand their surveying methods for SAV's to include new technologies, like satellite spectrography. Additionally, this would require the Department to analyze these surveying methodologies, as well as analysis tools, in a written report outlining their findings. This could lead to more frequent surveying which could yield important data regarding SAV loss in the Coastal Bays!


Click HERE to learn more.

Sponsored by Senator Mautz and Delegate Stein.

 

That’s Not All!

Check out some of these other bills which passed and are on their way to the Governor's desk for signing.  ACT is proud to have represented your right to clean water. 


  • HB 1074 / SB 0991 — Industrial Sludge Utilization Permit

  • HB 0022 / SB 0178 — Pollinator Habitat Plan

  • HB 0233 / SB 0306 — Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area Protection Program: Climate, Equity, and Administrative Provisions

  • HB 1153 / SB 0956 --- Protecting State Waters From PFAS Pollution Act

  • HB 0345 / SB 0916 — Fish and Wildlife - Endangered and Threatened Species

 

In 2025 We Want Your Help!

Stay tuned with ACT while we begin working with legislators to shape legislation for the 2025 session.  We want to ensure that your voice is elevated in the 2025 session.  Keep on the lookout for sign-on opportunities.  Together our voices are strongest!


Reach out to Coastkeeper@ACTforBays.org or call (443) 235-2014 if you are interested in learning more!

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