Here are updates on two pieces of legislation we wrote about earlier in the session.
By Becca Heller
Two bills that drew crowds to Annapolis have been killed in committee. The two bills, the Septic Bill and the Liberty Preservation Act of 2013, would have had wide implications in planning and law enforcement policy, respectively.
The Septic Bill
Republican Del. Michael McDermott’s initiative to repeal the septic bill was struck down in committee last month, even though rural communities supported it.
HB 106 drew dozens of farmers into the state capitol to testify in favor of McDermott’s initiative — not to mention a “tractor-cade” that rolled through the streets surrounding the state house just a week before the Senate vote on Feb. 19.
“Putting in place protections that encourage growth in areas that will generate less pollution makes common sense and will improve the quality of life for our children and future generations,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Executive Director Alison Prost in a Feb. 12 statement. “Those protections are not a ‘taking’ as some suggest. Instead, it enhances the value of agricultural lands and will help protect the fabric of rural Maryland.”
The vote was decisively struck down in both House and Senate committees — 19-5 in the House Environmental Matters and 7-4 in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs. The few who voted in favor of McDermott’s bill were primarily Republicans.
The Liberty Preservation Act
The Liberty Preservation Act sought to limit a federal bill that legalized the indefinite detainment of a U.S. citizen suspected of terrorist activities. The bill was given an unfavorable report in committee, despite the testimony of dozens of witnesses who supported the act.
Responding to sections 1021 and 1022 in the National Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012, the bill prohibited state officials from aiding federal authorities in the detainment of a person.
“This bill as amended is intended to ensure that no person can detain any other person in Maryland without due process of law,” Del. Don Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel County and sponsor of the bill, said during the hearing.
A wide variety of witnesses — from activists to everyday citizens — submitted testimony, advocating for the passage of this bill and voicing their concerns with the potentially wide-reaching impacts of the provisions within the NDAA.
Nonetheless, the bill was killed in the House Health and Governmental Operations committee earlier this week — 16-7. All seven votes for the bill were cast by Republican delegates.