Acting from our faith convictions, we join our voices with others in the region who call for responsible public policies to protect the Earth and its inhabitants.
We recognize that changing attitudes and behaviors of individuals and groups is important but not enough to bring about major change. Changes in public policies are needed to undo the harm that has been done to our environment, specifically the Chesapeake Bay, and to work towards a more sustainable future.
In a democracy, citizens have a moral obligation to engage in the political process in ways that align with their values. As part of our mission to inspire and equip people of faith to be stewards of God’s Creation, IPC distills relevant legislative issues into summaries to make it easier for you to bring the faith voice to bear.
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Due to limited staff capacity, we are only able to track legislation in the State of Maryland at this time. If you would like to help us track legislation in your state or in the District of Columbia, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018 Maryland Legislative Update
This was a disappointing session for many environmental bills. Here’s a summary of how things went in the 2018 Maryland Legislative Session.
Bills that Passed
None of the bills IPC was tracking passed this legislative session. A full review of all environmental legislation this session is provided by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters here.
Bills that Didn’t Pass
SB610/HB766 - Forest Conservation Act Amendments – This bill received huge grassroots support and caught the attention of many legislators, but did not pass. After first being amended to be a "Task Force Bill", which would require legislators to study the issue of forest losses in Maryland, House leaders watered down the Task Force Bill so significantly that the Senate did not like it. The last version of the Task Force Bill passed the House, but the Senate chose not to pass it.
Here's how the faith community engaged:
The Rev. Diana Caroll of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Eastport testified at the House hearing on February 21st in support of the Forest Conservation Act amendments. The Rev. Sue Lowcock-Harris of First Presbyterian Church of Howard County had this letter-to-the-editor "Thou Shall Not Steal Trees" published in the Bay Weekly about the moral duty to protect forests. The Rev. Franklin Lance of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church and director of the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council secured a letter signed by the leaders of 6 major denominations (United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Maryland-Delaware Synod, Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Archdiocese of Baltimore, and Presbytery of Baltimore-PCUSA). Montgomery County faithful citizens spoke with their state delegate and Chair of the House Environmental Committee Del. Kumar Barve about the importance of forest protection. Finally, 262 faithful signed this petition supporting amendments to strengthen the Forest Conservation Act – the signatures were submitted as written testimony to state officials. Many forwarded it to friends and family and posted on social media about it.
SB651/HB538 - Ban on Expanded Polystyrene – This was never brought up for a formal vote in the House Environment Committee, despite intense grassroots support including from youth in Baltimore City. An unfavorable vote in the Senate Finance Committee killed the bill before crossover date.
Here's how the faith community engaged: 36 congregations signed a letter reporting to their state delegates that they had already stopped using foam food products and thus a statewide ban was not a crazy idea! Behind each one of these congregations was a green leader at that congregation who took the time to confirm with their congregation that in fact they have stopped using Styrofoam, and added their names to the list.