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.
2017 Maryland Legislative Update
At a time when national leaders are loosening environmental regulations, Maryland doubled down on protecting the Chesapeake Bay! Here’s a summary of how things went in the 2017 Maryland Legislative Session.
Bills that Passed
SB422/HB602 - Keep Antibiotics Effective Act – This bill stops the use of antibiotics on animals that are not sick. With the rise of “superbugs” resulting from profuse use of antibiotics, this bill will cut back on inhumane treatment of animals for our quick and cheap production of food, and increase the effectiveness of antibiotics for medical purposes.
Here's how the faith community engaged: Pearlstone Center, a Jewish teaching farm in Howard County, testified at the hearing and Rev. Anthony Moore of Carolina Missionary Baptist Church sat down with Del. Knotts to express his support for this bill. Many individuals also called their state representatives or submitted one of these letters.
SB 386/HB 830 - Pollinator Habitat Plans – This bill prohibits the use of pesticides known to harm bees on state-designated pollinator habitats. In other words, it was great that the state designates pollinator habitats, but this bill clarified that the state shouldn’t use neonic pesticides in those habitats!
Here's how the faith community engaged: Individual faithful, including several from Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist, contacted their state representatives.
HB1325/SB740 – Oil and Natural Gas – Hydraulic Fracturing – Prohibition – Fracking is now banned in Maryland, despite the fact that there are actually gas reserves in our state (other states have banned fracking, but the industry was not concerned because there was no potential for fracking in those states). Congratulations to the many organizations that worked for 8 years to achieve this goal.
Here's how the faith community engaged: Major denominational leaders from the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council expressed written support for the fracking ban, and several pastors, including Fr. Ty Hullinger of St. Anthony Catholic Church, were arrested during a civil disobedience. Numerous individuals attended rallies, called their state representatives, or sent in one of these letters.
HB 1106/SB 921 - Clean Energy Jobs Act – This was an override of a veto that Gov. Hogan imposed on this bill on the final day of the session last year. The bill increases Maryland's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) to ensure that by 2020, 25% of Maryland’s electricity is derived from renewable energy sources.
Bills that Didn’t Pass
SB186/HB229 - Polystyrene Phaseout – This bill received huge grassroots support and caught the attention of many legislators, but did not pass. The House Environment & Transportation Committee is now embarking on a study of plastic pollution in preparation of putting forth a study-based bill next year.
Here's how the faith community engaged: A volunteer from Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist testified at the Senate and House hearings and several individuals called their state representatives or submitted one of these letters.
HB599/SB365—Forest Conservation Act Amendments – This bill passed out of the Senate, but stalled in the House Environment and Transportation Committee. The strong support in the Senate is a great foundation to work with in the 2018 session.
Here's how the faith community engaged: IPC's board member Dr. Mckay Jenkins penned this Op-Ed, published in the Baltimore Sun. Rev. Ryan Sirmons of United Church of Christ-Annapolis sat in closed-door meetings with Del. Healey and developers to convey the importance of treading respectfully on God's Earth. Rev. Sirmons also spoke at a rally organized by Chesapeake Bay Foundation and testified at one of the hearings. IPC organized an online petition which collected 147 signatures, and the petition and letter was submitted as testimony to both the House and Senate hearings on this bill.