ANNAPOLIS – Solid support for environmental legislation in the 1995 session came from both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, environmental advocates said.
Dru Schmidt-Perkins, Maryland Director of Clean Water Action, said she was pleased with the strong environmental coalition in the Legislature, especially among freshman members.
“These guys are voting green,” she said. “The support is so strong that the votes weren’t even very close.”
Nancy Davis, legislative chair of the Sierra Club agreed. She said that while support was expected from the Senate, “the House was also very strong.”
“Marylanders should be very proud,” she said, noting that while other states passed legislation to weaken environmental protection, the Maryland Legislature defeated such measures.
According to the Sierra Club’s national office, five states already have legislation allowing businesses to evaluate their own environmental impact. Thirty states, including Maryland, considered such measures this year. Out of eleven states where the legislative session has ended, five have passed the bill.
In Maryland, a bill was introduced in the House by Del. George Owings, D-Calvert, to protect a business from being cited for violations if it practices self-evaluation and voluntarily reports problems to the state. The measure was defeated in the House Environmental Matters Committee.
Among other failed measures in Maryland were bills to weaken the state’s regulatory powers and to compensate owners when regulatory actions decrease property values.
“Certain people wanted to mimic what was going on in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Davis said, referring to various measures considered in Washington to weaken environmental protection.
Schmidt-Perkins said the first big test for Maryland delegates was a House floor vote on a bill that would have kept state agencies from adopting regulations more stringent than the federal standard. The bill, sponsored by Del. John Arnick, D- Baltimore County, was defeated.
Schmidt-Perkins named Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, as the environment’s lead spokesperson in the Senate. She also mentioned Sen. John Cade, R-Anne Arundel, Sen. Vernon Boozer, R-Baltimore, and Sen. Martin Madden, R-Howard, as strong leaders.
Schmidt-Perkins said over 50 delegates in the House consistently voted with the environment. Support was spread throughout various committees, she added, which gave bills pervasive backing.
She listed Del. James Hubbard, D-Prince George’s, Del. Elizabeth Bobo, D-Howard, Del. Leon Billings, D-Montgomery, and Del. Dan Morhaim, D-Baltimore, as strong leaders in the House.
Schmidt-Perkins said that “overall, the environmental votes have gone very, very well. Little has gone out to harm the environment, although there were many bills that would have been detrimental.” -30-