2022 Maryland Legislative Session Wrap Up
Throughout this year’s legislative session, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy has been hard at work advancing our priorities in Annapolis. We want to thank you for your support during the 444th session of Maryland General Assembly; it is with great pride that we are able to share with you our wins for this session! If you have any questions concerning our policy work, please reach out to Policy Manager Sara Ramotnik at email@example.com.
Real Property- Partition of Property (HB777/SB92) – Passed!
This bill was one of our main legislative priorities for the 2022 session; it allows the court to partition real property so that tenants-in-common or heirs of a property can keep their land if they so choose, rather than the land being sold in a partition sale. This halts the current system where land is sold although one or more tenants-in-common wanted to keep their land as is. Passing this legislation will lead to thousands of agricultural lands remaining in production rather than being sold for development.
Conservation Finance Act (HB653/SB348) – Passed!
Passing after its second time in the General Assembly, the Conservation Finance Act aims to expand opportunities to account for natural infrastructure, in part by creating a temporary task force to take advantage of new federal accounting standards regarding the economic benefits of nature. This task force can also make recommendations on ways to engage land trusts and others in using natural assets to create equity and climate resilience in disadvantaged communities. It also authorizes pay-for-success contracts for environmental outcomes.
Great Maryland Outdoors Act (HB727/SB541) – Passed!
A huge win for state parks, the Great Maryland Outdoors Act vastly expands funding for Maryland’s state parks. The funding will be used to address critical maintenance projects, expand access within current parks, and acquire land for parks. This legislation will also allocate funding for infrastructure that mitigates the effects of climate change, as well as transportation improvements that include improving bike lanes and trails.
Sustainable Maryland Fund (HB100/SB14) – Passed!
The Sustainable Maryland Fund will expand and enhance the Sustainable Maryland program, which is a critical step in the state’s effort to empower local action and realize statewide environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Over the last ten years, Sustainable Maryland has supported municipal governments across the state by providing jurisdictions with a comprehensive suite of policies, resources, direct support, and incentives designed to help municipalities make progress across a broad range of sustainability goals.
Office of Resiliency (HB706/SB630) – Passed!
This legislation will establish an Office of Resilience with a chief resilience officer in the Maryland Department of Emergency Management. The officer will be responsible for coordinating state and local efforts to build resilience within communities across the state in order to put Maryland in a stronger position to handle future risks, including those which are exacerbated by climate change. It will also give state and local governments the ability to better secure new funding opportunities aimed at pre-disaster mitigation.
Budget (HB300/SB290) – Passed!
This year proved to be a banner year for conservation and the budget was no exception! Land trusts utilize funding from Maryland’s transfer tax through programs such as Program Open Space, Rural Legacy and the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation. The programs were funded as follows:
Stateside Program Open Space: $96 million
Local side Program Open Space: $82 million
Rural Legacy: $26 million
Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF): $72 million
Maryland the Beautiful (HB1031/SB791) – Next year!
This bill did not pass during this session, but we are nonetheless hopeful for its success during the 2023 session. The Maryland the Beautiful Act sets a state-wide goal of permanently protecting 30% of the state’s land by 2030 and 40% by 2040; this goal will better guide our state’s conservation efforts over the course of the next two decades. It also outlines tools of how we are to accomplish this goal, including the creation of a revolving loan fund appropriated at $10 million that would give conservation organizations quick access to an amount of capital that they might not otherwise have in order to protect parcels of land that might otherwise be developed.