Land Use and Policy Update
One of the key ways ESLC works to conserve the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore is through advocacy. With a newly-installed administration and corresponding changes to leadership positions coinciding with the current legislative session, it’s a busy time of year.
ESLC staff have been making office visits with legislators, advocating for designated cabinet nominees, participating in numerous legislative priority meetings representing a variety of stakeholder interests, and most recently, served as a sponsor of the always popular Taste of the Eastern Shore event in Annapolis.
Considerable time is spent tracking legislation that impacts Eastern Shore natural resources conservation. A third of the way into the current legislative session, over 2,700 bills have been introduced into the House and Senate.
The majority of bills of interest to ESLC fall under the purview of either the newly-formed Senate Education, Energy and Environment Committee (formerly the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee) or the Environment and Transportation Committee in the House. Combined, these two committees are currently considering over 450 proposed bills.
Helping us to track on-going legislative developments is a useful tool accessed via the Maryland General Assembly website which is available for public use. My MGA is easy to register for, easy to navigate and is an essential tool for staying abreast of the latest developments and future happenings.
Information on proposed bills, scheduled committee hearings (some of which can be live-streamed) and fiscal analyses by the Department of Legislative Services are some of the key features accessed through My MGA. ESLC is currently tracking numerous bills that align – or don’t – with priorities we outlined in our Gubernatorial Conservation Action Plan submitted to the Governor’s transition team and key elected officials.
Another useful tool for tracking legislation is offered by the Maryland Association for Counties (MACO) includes staff-written analyses of bills from a county-level perspective. Combined, these resources are not only helpful to stay on top of emerging issues but offer well-rounded insights into the impact of potential legislation.
As ESLC continues to expand its Land Use and Policy Department, integrating platforms such as these into our daily work helps us not only to stay abreast of developments but highlights opportunities for engagement and advocacy on policies that benefit conservation and protection, stewardship and restoration of the irreplaceable natural resources that make the Eastern Shore so special.