MAGI LEGISLATIVE YEAR-END SUMMARY
The recently concluded 90-day session of the Maryland General Assembly addressed a record 3,101 bills. Considering there are only 188 legislators, that works out to an average of just over 16 bills for eachmember. When one factors in that 2018 is an election year the logic becomes a bit clearer. There will be much movement among the present officeholders. Ten senators and twenty-seven house members will not return to their present seats. Some will retire, some will run for other offices, some have been forced to leave, and sadly, we mourned the passing of Senator Wayne Norman.
One fact holds true, there is always change. Attitudes, issues and constituencies change and so it holds that the legislature changes. MAGI has been able to manage those changes successfully by working diligently to establish relationships with lawmakers. MAGI is invited to be at the table when issues affecting our industry are being debated. The issues are complicated, the hearings are intense confrontations and our opposition steadily grows in numbers. Yet, we continue to bring research, statistics and common sense to an ever-increasing debate.
Many years of establishing relationships enable us to have a minimal amount of negative legislation filed. This year is a particularly good example of how our efforts yield results. There were only two bills on which we needed to act upon. One we supported with amendments, the other we were able to defeat.
Senate Bill 203, Agriculture - Nutrient Management - Fertilizer Use on Turf. The bill removes a requirement under the Fertilizer Use Act of 2011 that nitrogen applied to turf, by a professional fertilizer applicator, during the period from November 16 through December 1 of each calendar year, be “water-soluble.” The bill also removes a requirement that organic or natural organic fertilizer containing phosphorus that is applied to turf by a professional fertilizer applicator under specified allowable conditions be a “low phosphorus fertilizer.”
House Bill 116/Senate Bill 500, - Pesticides - Use of Chlorpyrifos – Prohibition. This bill would have prohibited a person from using chlorpyrifos in the State, including any insecticide that contains chlorpyrifos, beginning January 1, 2019. We were able to defeat this bill in the Senate and have it withdrawn in the House. Our members, the golf course superintendents, who would have been most affected, conducted a successful letter-writing and phone call campaign enabling us to get a fatal amendment adopted on the Senate floor. This caused the bill to be recommitted to the committee by the senate floor leader, thus killing it in the final days of the session.
MAGI monitored two other bills of concern. HB176, Montgomery County - Uniformity of Property Tax Assessments - Country Clubs and Golf Courses and HB 1340, Property Tax - Country Clubs and Golf Courses - Rate of Assessment and Term of Agreements. HB176, was a constitutional amendment that would have been on the November General Election ballot had it passed the legislature. The bill would have eliminated the special use assessment resulting in an increase in property taxes on golf courses defined in the bill as country clubs. HB 1340, would have altered the county property tax assessment for country clubs and golf courses in the State. Some county property tax revenues might have decreased. However, some jurisdictions might have realized an increase in net property tax revenues depending on the actual market value of the land. As an example, it is possible that Montgomery County property tax revenues could have increased.
While it is rare for tax increases to pass in an election year, we must be vigilant about further attempts next year.
MAGI’s hard-working, experienced professionals have kept Maryland’s green industry safe and viable by bringing their experiences and knowledge to the legislature through their membership in MAGI. Thank you for your continued and steadfast support .
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