March 2021 Director's Reports

LWVHC – March 11, 2021 Meeting: Program and Directors’ Reports

 Program Report – Krista Threefoot

We have two big things to cover this month:

  • The updated education position
  • The LWVMD Ballot Initiative Study

But first – good news! LWVMD read our recommendation for a statewide education study in program consensus report, and they contacted me to ask if they could use our education position once we approve it.

  1. New Education Position

At our February Unit Meeting, members came to a consensus to update our Education position to include the topic of equity in education.

The next step is for our board to approve the position the Education Study Committee wrote based on the consensus report. After that, we present the new position at our Annual Meeting for a vote. Board approval is mostly a formality. Because the position is based on the specific points in our consensus, we can’t change the substance of the position.

I’ll copy the new position here, and as an addendum, I’ll include the entire education position with the new language added. (Equity in Education would be point #10.) The consensus report is also included after the full education position.

Position Statement:

Support for:

  1. Equity in education (2021)
    1. Equity requires that we provide each student with the resources, support, and instruction necessary to achieve academic success. Schools with disproportionate numbers of students with special needs [including English as a Second Language (ESL) and Free and Reduced Meals (FARM)] require more support than schools that are less challenged.
    2. Equity is achieved through:
      1. Balanced school redistricting. Balanced school redistricting is defined as: (1) capacity utilization, (2) community continuity, (3) factors related to social-economic diversity.
      2. Allocation of resources such as communication systems, technology, maintenance and capital improvements, and even playground equipment based on the need of each school.
  • How experienced the staff, administrators & support staff are.
  1. Transparent and comprehensive data collection related to factors affecting equity that allows citizens to understand how equity goals are achieved.
  2. Expanded multi-cultural course offerings and consistent advanced placement offerings among all schools.
  3. LWVMD Ballot Initiative Study
    Our next unit meeting (March 18, 7-9pm) will be another consensus meeting to review the LWVMD Ballot Initiative Study.

This study covers the topic of allowing citizens to propose legislation, either directly or indirectly, which will appear on our ballots for a referendum vote. It’s a complicated issue, with lots of pros and cons. I encourage everyone to review the study and attend the meeting. You can access the study here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/lwvmaryland/pages/127/attachments/original/1613222519/2021BallotInitiativeFS_FINAL.pdf?1613222519

 

Action: Linda Wengel --  

CB 17
AN ACT to update and add definitions related to solar collector equipment; to eliminate the requirement for a glare study; to add certain reviews by the Agricultural Preservation Board; to allow rooftop commercial and accessory ground mount solar collectors in all zoning districts; to allow commercial ground-mount solar collector facilities in certain zoning districts ; to limit the size of commercial ground-mount solar collector facilities on certain parcels that are in the Agricultural Land Preservation Program; and generally relating to the Howard County Zoning Regulations.

 CB23

An Act  requiring the developer of a TOD (Transit Oriented Development) District site to provide the required moderate income housing units on the TOD site; prohibiting certain actions by the developer relating to option methods or alternative compliance to optional methods; and generally relating to Moderate-Income Housing Unit requirements.

 LWVMD will be pursuing continuation of virtual coverage of state legislative meetings and sessions for future sessions.

There is a new national project called Road Map to Educating for Democracy whose purpose is to build excellence in civic and history education for all K through 12 students.  It has very credible leaders and I think second to fighting voter suppression, it is one of the most important endeavors the League should be involved in, given how fragile we have learned our democracy is.  

Communications – Laura Mettle:   

We now have Google email accounts, Drives and a shared Drive for the Executive Board's use, courtesy of LWVMD. 

Please upload relevant documents to the Shared Drive, so we will have those. 

I am taking requests for Google training. Please let me know what you need/want.

I will continue working on revamping the website. 

Education – Linda Frascarella:    

  • Howard County Public Schools are reopening

On March 1, HCPSS started its transition to a hybrid instructional model.

  • School start times are now 20 minutes later than they were pre-covid
  • There are changes to student class times/durations
  • Free meals are still available, but the delivery logistics have changed

Details can be found here:

https://news.hcpss.org/news-posts/2021/02/preparing-for-2020-2021-hybrid-instruction/

  • Student Member to Board or Education

The 2 student candidates for the Board of Education have been selected and a virtual election will take place in early May.

In January, the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, reached out to the Howard County Board of Education and offered their legal services pro bono.  They will respond to the lawsuit filed by 2 parents, trying to remove the voting rights of the student member.

(Reference: https://patch.com/maryland/ellicottcity/pro-bono-services-secured-hoco-education-board-lawsuit)

  • FY22 budget

The school board voted unanimously in late February to send the proposed fiscal 2022 operating budget of $960 million to the County Executive and the County Council. The spending plan is $50.1 million more than FY21.

Reference (https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/howard/cng-ho-board-advances-budget-20210225-6mni3isy5bdptayc2ctawvagjm-story.html)

Environment Report – Sandy Levy
 
Firms managing Purple Line construction narrow list of potential new contractors. The three bidders are Halmar International; a team of Dragados USA and OHL USA; and a joint venture of Tutor Perini and Lunda Construction Co.
Washington Post, March 3, 2021

The Maryland Department of the Environment submitted its final 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan to Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly. The new Plan calls for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. The 2030 GGRA Plan also includes an even more aggressive stretch goal of net-zero emissions by 2045.
February 19, 2021

Howard County Council passes bill prohibiting use of certain single-use plastic by restaurants and retailers
The Howard County Council passed the Plastics Reduction Act in a 4-1 vote Monday night, prohibiting the use of certain single-use plastic by restaurants and retailers. The legislation, introduced last month by County Council member Christiana Mercer Rigby, Vice Chair Opel Jones and Chair Liz Walsh, aims to limit single-use plastic such as straws, stirrers and certain condiment packets in the county by requiring retailers and restaurants to supply alternatives and by asking before giving out condiment packets and plastic ware to customers.
March 2, 2021

Maryland General Assembly

The two bills that Katie Fry Hester mentioned in her Environment Report were SB62-Chief Resilience Officer which creates a Chief Resilience Officer within the Maryland Emergency Management Administration to mitigate the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities, and SB319- Clean Energy Loan Program which opens access to low interest loans for environmental remediation and clean energy improvements for commercial properties. SB319 was voted favorable with amendments on February 3, 2021.

*League of Women Voters Maryland supports
Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021

SB0414 HB0583
[Status: In the Senate - Laid Over (Senator Pinsky) Adopted]
Requiring the State to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2030; requiring the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045; requiring the Maryland Department of Labor to adopt regulations establishing certain energy conservation requirements for certain buildings by July 1, 2022; establishing a goal of planting and helping to maintain in the State 5,000,000 sustainable trees of species native to the State by the end of 2030; terminating certain provisions of the Act; etc.

*League of Women Voters Maryland supports
Economic Development - Advanced Clean Energy and Clean Energy Innovation Investments and Initiatives
HB419
[Status: In the Senate - First Reading Finance]
Altering references to the term "clean energy" to be "advanced clean energy" for purposes of certain provisions of law concerning the Maryland Clean Energy Center and the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute; altering certain findings of the General Assembly, the purposes of certain provisions of law concerning the development of clean energy industries in the State, and the purposes, powers, and duties of the Center and Institute to include certain actions supporting clean energy innovation; etc.

*League of Women Voters Maryland supports
Maryland Transit Administration - Funding (Transit Safety and Investment Act)
HB0114
[Status: In the House - Hearing 2/03 at 1:30 p.m.]
Requiring the Governor to include certain appropriations in the State budget from the Transportation Trust Fund to the Maryland Transit Administration for certain operating and capital needs in certain fiscal years; authorizing the reduction of certain appropriations under certain circumstances; requiring that certain capital appropriations be in addition to capital funds appropriated for the Purple Line; requiring the Administration to submit a certain report annually; declaring the intent of the General Assembly; etc.

Clean Energy Loan Program - Remediation and Resiliency
SB0319 HB0517 Sponsors Senators Hester and Elfreth
[Status: In the House - First Reading Environment and Transportation]
Expanding the purpose of a certain clean energy loan program to include loans for water efficiency projects, environmental remediation projects intended to remove environmental or health hazards, and resiliency projects to increase the capacity of a property to withstand the effects of climate change; adding water efficiency projects and environmental remediation and resiliency projects to the items requiring eligibility requirements under a certain ordinance; etc.

Zoning - Environmental Justice Considerations
SB0121 HB0051
[Status: In the House - First Reading Environment and Transportation]
Authorizing a local governing body, on receipt of an application for a special exception to construct or operate a permitted facility in an area zoned for residential use, to require the preparation, at the applicant's expense, of a detailed analysis of the environmental and public health impacts of the permitted facility on the surrounding community; requiring the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to recommend strategies for increasing State support in addressing environmental justice concerns; etc.

Environmental Justice - At-Risk Communities and Environmental Permits – Requirements

HB0111
[Status: withdrawn by the sponsor, Delegate Love]
Delegate Love’s staff member explained to me that she had proposed the bill on behalf of an advocate group, and the group felt they needed more time to bring it in alignment to COVID protocols. They are going to work on it more.

Chief Resilience Officer
SB0062 Sponsors: Senators Hester and Elfreth
[Status: In the Senate - Hearing 1/28 at 11:00 a.m.]
Requiring the Director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer to be responsible for coordinating State and local efforts to build resilience to risks identified in the Maryland Hazard Mitigation Plan; providing that the Chief Resilience Officer serves at the pleasure of the Director; establishing the duties of the Chief Resilience Officer, including identifying funding streams and technical assistance and working with leaders of vulnerable industries; requiring a certain annual report; etc.

*League of Women Voters Maryland supports
Maryland Transit Administration - Conversion to Zero-Emission Buses (Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act)

SB0137 HB0334
[Status: In the Senate - Hearing 1/28 at 11:00 a.m. (Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs)]
Prohibiting, beginning in fiscal year 2023, the Maryland Transit Administration from purchasing buses for the Administration's State transit bus fleet that are not zero-emission buses; requiring the Administration, on or before January 1, 2022, and each January 1 thereafter, to submit a report to certain committees of the General Assembly on the implementation of the Act; requiring the report to include a schedule for converting to zero-emission buses and a plan for transitioning any adversely affected State employees; etc.

Fundraising – Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat

Membership – Lucie Geinzer: Nothing to report.  

Voter Services – Cheryle Wharton : Nothing to report – This is from Beth Hufnagel and the Redistricting Committee:  LWVMD Testifies for Redistricting Standards - LWVMD (nationbuilder.com)


February 2021 Directors' Reports

LWVHC – February 11, 2021 Meeting: Program and Directors’ Reports

 Program Report – Krista Threefoot

  • January Unit Meeting: At our January unit meeting, we reviewed LWVMD Program Planning for 2021-2023. We had a solid number of people participating and a productive discussion of the issues and LWVMD positions.
    Some of the comments that came up were:
    #Note on Climate change: There was some discussion of whether or not the League has positions about prevention of hazardous waste.
    Note:  The Howard County Unit Meeting to review positions supported inclusion of language in favor of anti-discrimination based on gender identity and sexual preference.

               We also came to a consensus to propose a LWVMD study on Education:

 Proposed LWVMD studies
Title: Equity in Education
Purpose: (Scope of Study)
The purpose of the study is to establish positions that specifically address equity in education.  The current Education positions do not address specific issues described in the Comments section.
Comments:  The issues to be studied would include the following: (1) faculty diversity, (2) school discipline, (3) curriculum diversity beyond Euro-centric studies, (4) equity in funding for building maintenance and construction, (5) mental health support, specifically suicide prevention, (6) equity issues related to the use of and access to technology. The LWVHC conducted a study of equity in education that could be the basis for a state-wide study.  This position will be presented for consensus at the February 18 unit meeting.

Bill Salginak also proposed that LWVHC complete a second Equity in Education based on the new HCPSS Educational Equity policy (Policy 1080.) Our original study stemmed from the 2019 school boundary redistricting. Policy 1080 presents new issues that are relevant but not fully included in our original study. I met with Bill to discuss, and the main topics for study that came up in our meeting were: faculty diversity, discipline, and curriculum diversity.

See attached copy of our consensus report.

  • February Unit Meeting – Our Feb. Unit meeting will address our education study and consensus.

The study is available on our website and here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rzsmbrcg3g7uy4d/LWVHC%20Education%20Study%20Narrative%20and%20Concurrence.pdf?dl=0

 

  • LWVMD WINTER WORKSHOP
    LWVMD presented a new study on initiative voting. Essentially, voting by initiative allows voters to propose legislation that will be on our ballots as a type of referendum vote. We will be reviewing the study and coming to consensus at a future Unit meeting, most likely in March.

See attached copy of the initiative voting fact sheet.

 

Action: Linda Wengel -- No relevant county legislation to report.  I would like to raise an initiative for us to consider concerning continuation of the live streaming of government meetings after the pandemic. There will a virtual meeting of the ACS with the Howard County Council on March 10th at 9 AM

Internal Communications –   


External Communications –
Laura Mettle:  Phase one of our online consolidation is complete, at a cost of $543.85.  We are in the process of defining our phase two requirements for the Google workspace. The cost estimate for this new phase is over $700, and may be over $1000, depending on how much training we need, and if we purchase ongoing support. 

We have not yet purchased our own Zoom account, and are still using LWVMD Zoom. Since we have the ability to create and run meetings ourselves that may work well for us for the foreseeable future. 

We have previously approved $1150 for online enhancements, but we need approval for at least another $500, perhaps up to $1000, in order to complete our Google Workspace set up and integration into the NationBuilder website. 

I propose that the External Communications Director be renamed "Online Services Director" and converted back into an elected Board position in April. I also propose that the Communications Director be in charge of content for The Voter (which should remain an online publication or blog), press releases to community organizations (which might also be posted on the website and published in The Voter), and Social Media account postings. 

I propose an amendment to the Bylaws, Article VI, Board of Directors, Section 6 (c), Conference Telephone Call Meetings, to include virtual meetings held on video conferencing platforms. Consideration should be given to similarly amending Section IV, Membership Meetings, to include virtual meetings held on video conferencing platforms. 

Education – Linda Frascarella:  Howard Country Public Schools will implement a hybrid learning model starting on March 1 and continuing thru April 12. By April 12th every student who wants to attend, in person, should be back in school. Note that any student who wants to remain virtual can do so.

Fall sports will be starting Feb 13

Teacher vaccination is underway. The Board of Education sent a letter to Governor Hogan requesting more vaccines for teachers. This is unlikely to change anything as the Governor already has a plan for distributing vaccines based on availability.

The Board of Education is currently holding public hearings and having working sessions to review the Superintendents FY22 budget proposal.  The budge process is documented here: https://www.hcpss.org/about-us/budgets/fy22/#boe

The Board met in closed sessions to get legal advice regarding the state’s authority and the local board of education’s authority to re-open schools during the pandemic, due to the pending lawsuit

At the state level the Maryland League of Women Voters is actively following this bill

HB 496 Primary and Secondary Education - Mental Health Services - Expansion (Counselors Not Cops Act) 

Bill Summary

Altering the membership of the School Safety Subcabinet Advisory Board; requiring the Governor, beginning in fiscal year 2023, to include in the annual budget bill an appropriation of $10,000,000 to the Safe Schools Fund to be used for certain purposes related to expanding the availability of school-based mental health services; etc.

Environment Report – Sandy Levy
  

  • Patapsco Valley Heritage Area Economic Impact Estimated at $50.9 Million
    January 21, 2021
    Ellicott City, MD –Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA), the governing body of the Maryland Heritage Areas Program, today released the results of a study that estimates the contribution of the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area (PVHA) to the statewide economy to be $50.9 million and 718 jobs.
    CONTACT: Aaron Shapiro, Executive Director | [email protected] | 410.696.1328
  • Maryland General Assembly
  • Here are all the Maryland General Assembly bills that seem to relate to cleaning up our environment. There are a bunch! The bill prohibiting the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos has not been reintroduced in the 2021 session. Governor Hogan vetoed it in the 2020 session. The two bills that Katie Fry Hester mentioned in her Environment Report were SB62-Chief Resilience Officer which creates a Chief Resilience Officer within the Maryland Emergency Management Administration to mitigate the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities, and SB319- Clean Energy Loan Program which opens access to low interest loans for environmental remediation and clean energy improvements for commercial properties. SB319 was voted favorable with amendments on February 3, 2021. Since there are so many bills, if there are a few that we want to especially keep track of, please let me know. The most important and comprehensive bill is the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021.
  • Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021
    SB0414 HB0583
    Requiring the State to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2030; requiring the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045; requiring the Maryland Department of Labor to adopt regulations establishing certain energy conservation requirements for certain buildings by July 1, 2022; establishing a goal of planting and helping to maintain in the State 5,000,000 sustainable trees of species native to the State by the end of 2030; terminating certain provisions of the Act; etc.
  • Plastic Bag Reduction Act
    SB0223 HB0314
    Prohibiting, on or after July 1, 2022, a certain retail establishment from distributing plastic carryout bags to a customer at the point of sale; providing that, on or after July 1, 2022, only the State may enact a law or take other action to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the use of certain plastic bags by a retail establishment, that certain authority of a county or municipality is preempted, and that certain laws or ordinances are superseded; requiring the Maryland Department of Labor to adopt certain regulations; etc.              
  • Environment – PFAS Chemicals – Prohibitions and Requirements
    SB0195 HB0022
    Prohibiting, on or after January 1, 2022, a person from using, manufacturing, or knowingly selling or distributing certain fire-fighting foam that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals in the State; prohibiting, on or after January 1, 2022, a person from manufacturing, selling, or distributing a certain rug or carpet in the State; prohibiting, on or after January 1, 2022, a manufacturer or distributor from manufacturing, selling, or distributing certain food packaging in the State; etc.

    Clean Cars Act of 2021               
    HB0044
    Extending and altering, for fiscal years 2021 through 2023, the Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment Rebate Program and the vehicle excise tax credit for the purchase of certain electric vehicles; increasing from $1,200,000 to $1,800,000 the amount of rebates that the Maryland Energy Administration may issue; increasing, for purposes of a certain vehicle excise tax credit, the limitation on the maximum total purchase price of certain electric vehicles; reducing the vehicle excise tax credit for certain electric drive vehicles; etc.
  • Maryland Transit Administration - Funding (Transit Safety and Investment Act)
    SB0199 HB0114
    Requiring the Governor to include certain appropriations in the State budget from the Transportation Trust Fund to the Maryland Transit Administration for certain operating and capital needs in certain fiscal years; authorizing the reduction of certain appropriations under certain circumstances; requiring that certain capital appropriations be in addition to capital funds appropriated for the Purple Line; requiring the Administration to submit a certain report annually; declaring the intent of the General Assembly; etc.
  • Emergency Management - Chief Resilience Officer - Appointment and Duties
    SB0062 HB0542
    Requiring the Director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer to be responsible for coordinating State and local efforts to build resilience to risks identified in the Maryland Hazard Mitigation Plan; providing that the Chief Resilience Officer serves at the pleasure of the Director; establishing the duties of the Chief Resilience Officer, including identifying funding streams and technical assistance and working with leaders of vulnerable industries; requiring a certain annual report; etc.

    Clean Energy Loan Program - Remediation and Resiliency
    SB0319 HB0517
    Expanding the purpose of a certain clean energy loan program to include loans for water efficiency projects, environmental remediation projects intended to remove environmental or health hazards, and resiliency projects to increase the capacity of a property to withstand the effects of climate change; adding water efficiency projects and environmental remediation and resiliency projects to the items requiring eligibility requirements under a certain ordinance; etc.
  • Electric Generation – Transition From Fossil Fuels – Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rate and Transition Plan and Fund (Maryland Coal Community Transition Act of 2021)
    SB0148 HB0066
    Prohibiting the carbon dioxide emissions rate for certain affected electric generating units from exceeding 180 pounds per million British thermal units; establishing the Fossil Fuel Community Transition Fund to provide grants to certain individuals and communities; requiring the Maryland Department of Labor to establish certain policies and procedures for the administration of the Fund; requiring the Maryland Energy Administration to use the Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Fund to provide certain funding; etc.
  • Maryland Recycling Act - Recyclable Materials and Resource Recovery Facilities - Alterations
    SB0304 HB0280
    Altering the definition of "recyclable materials" under the Maryland Recycling Act to exclude incinerator ash; and repealing the authority of a county to utilize a resource recovery facility to meet 5% of the waste reduction required to be achieved through recycling in the county's recycling plan.

    Environment – Recycling – Prohibition on the Chemical Conversion of Plastic
    HB0021
    Altering the definition of recycling to exclude certain chemical conversion processes, pyrolysis, hydropyrolysis, methanolysis, gasification, enzymatic breakdown, or similar processes as determined by the Department of the Environment; prohibiting a person from building in the State a facility that converts plastic to fuel through a certain chemical conversion process; and authorizing the Department of the Environment to adopt regulations to implement certain provisions of the Act.

    Climate Crisis and Education Act
    SB0076 HB0033
    Establishing a Climate Crisis Initiative in the Department of the Environment for certain purposes; establishing a greenhouse gas reduction target of 60% from 2006 levels by 2030 and net-zero by 2045; establishing a Climate Crisis Council to develop a plan to reach the reduction targets and submit it to the General Assembly by December 31, 2022; requiring the Council to have the plan verified in a certain manner; requiring a greenhouse gas pollution fee on all fossil fuels brought into the State for combustion in the State; etc.
  • Environment – Packaging, Containers, and Paper Products – Producer Responsibility
    HB0036
    Requiring, by October 1, 2022, a producer of certain packaging, containers, and paper products to individually or as part of a stewardship organization submit a covered materials and products stewardship plan to the Department of the Environment for approval; prohibiting, on or after a October 1, 2024, a producer of covered materials and products from selling or distributing covered materials and products unless the producer individually or as part of a stewardship organization has an approved stewardship plan; etc.
  • Zoning - Environmental Justice Considerations
    SB0121 HB0051
    Requiring a local governing body, on application by a property owner for a special exception to construct or operate a landfill in an area zoned for residential use, to require an environmental justice analysis, paid for by the property owner, describing any potentially adverse environmental, health and economic impacts to the area; requiring the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to recommend strategies for State oversight of local zoning decisions that present environmental justice concerns; etc.
  • Environment – Statewide Green Business Certification Program – Establishment
    HB0061
    Requiring the Department of the Environment to establish and administer a statewide green business certification program; requiring the green business certification program to recognize businesses operating in a way that reduces their environmental footprint and to provide consumers with information on how to identify those businesses; requiring the Department to update and enhance the statewide green business certification program in consultation with the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program; etc.
  • Environment - Single-Use Plastics – Restrictions
    HB0069
    Prohibiting, beginning January 1, 2022, a food service business from providing certain single-use food or beverage products to a certain customer unless requested by the customer; requiring a food service business to maintain a limited supply of certain single-use food and beverage products for certain customers; prohibiting, beginning January 1, 2024, an owner, an operator, or a manager of a lodging establishment with 51 or more rooms from providing certain personal cleansing products in small plastic bottles; etc.
  • Energy Efficiency - Net-Zero Homes - Contract Preferences
    SB0077 HB0070
    Requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development to give preference to applications for funding for a net-zero home from the Energy-Efficient Homes Construction Fund that will use the services of small, minority, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in the clean energy industry, particularly those businesses that provide employment for individuals trained through workforce development programs supported by the Strategic Energy Investment Fund and the Clean Energy Workforce Account.
  • Environment – Application of Coal Tar Pavement Products – Prohibitions (Safer Sealant Act of 2021)
    HB0077
    Prohibiting, on or after October 1, 2022, a person from applying certain coal tar pavement products to pavement or a similar surface; providing that the Act does not apply to a wastewater treatment facility that uses coal tar to seal components of a sewerage system; and establishing a civil penalty not exceeding $500 for a first offense and not exceeding $1,000 for a second or subsequent offense for certain violations.
  • Environment – Oil and Natural Gas Produced by Hydraulic Fracturing – Prohibition on Exportation
    HB0196
    Prohibiting a person from exporting from the State oil or natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing.
  • Condominiums and Homeowners Associations - Rights and Restrictions – Composting
    HB0248
    Prohibiting a recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a condominium or a homeowners association from restricting or prohibiting a certain owner from composting organic waste materials for personal or household use under certain circumstances or contracting with a private entity for the collection of organic waste materials for composting at a composting facility; etc.
  • Environmental Justice - At-Risk Communities and Environmental Permits – Requirements
    HB0111
    Requiring the Department of the Environment to develop, post, and maintain on its website a list of at-risk communities in the State by January 31, 2022; requiring the Department to update the list of at-risk communities at least once every 2 years; requiring the Department to notify a municipality if any part of the municipality has been designated an at-risk community; requiring an applicant for a certain permit to prepare an environmental justice impact statement and conduct a public hearing before an application may be considered;
  • Department of Transportation and Department of the Environment - Purple Line Tree Replacement Plan
    SB0359 HB0080
    Requiring the Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Department of the Environment, to develop a plan to replace trees removed during construction of the Purple Line; requiring the Department of Transportation to consult with businesses, community representatives, local governments, and residents about the plan; requiring the plan to provide for the replacement of trees in areas affected by Purple Line construction with priority given to those with environmental justice issues or the heat island effect; etc.
  • Environment - Mold Inspections - Standards, Reporting, and Penalties
    SB0070 HB0129
    Requiring the Department of the Environment, in consultation with the Maryland Department of Health, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Department of General Services, to adopt certain regulations on or before June 1, 2023, establishing uniform standards for mold assessment and remediation; requiring the Department of the Environment to maintain a certain registry and to develop and make available on its website and in print certain resource materials; requiring a certain indoor air quality report; etc.
  • Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment for Multifamily Units Act
    SB0144 HB0110
    Providing that certain provisions of a recorded covenant or restriction, a declaration, or the bylaws or rules of a condominium or homeowners association are void and unenforceable if they prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation or use of electric vehicle recharging equipment; requiring certain owners of electric vehicle recharging equipment to be responsible for certain costs and disclosures; requiring a unit owner or lot owner to obtain certain permits or approval; etc.

    Maryland Transit Administration - Conversion to Zero-Emission Buses (Zero-Emission Bus Transition Act)
    SB0137 HB0334
    Prohibiting, beginning in fiscal year 2023, the Maryland Transit Administration from purchasing buses for the Administration's State transit bus fleet that are not zero-emission buses; requiring the Administration, on or before January 1, 2022, and each January 1 thereafter, to submit a report to certain committees of the General Assembly on the implementation of the Act; requiring the report to include a schedule for converting to zero-emission buses and a plan for transitioning any adversely affected State employees; etc.
  • Department of the Environment – Office of Recycling – Recycling Market Development
    SB0116 HB0164
    Requiring the Office of Recycling in the Department of the Environment to promote the development of markets for recycled materials and recycled products in the State; requiring the Office to evaluate the availability of certain markets and identify businesses in the State that use recycled materials; requiring that the annual Maryland solid waste management and diversion report be submitted to the General Assembly by September 1, 2022, and each year thereafter, and include certain activities; etc.
  • Agriculture - Processing of Poultry Litter for Alternative Use
    SB0585 HB0455
    Requiring the processing of poultry litter for a certain alternative use, or the resulting product, to meet certain requirements; requiring a certain product to be able to be procured and handled or applied in a certain manner for a certain purpose; authorizing the transportation of a certain alternative use product off the Delmarva Peninsula to certain markets and using a certain distribution apparatus; etc.
  • Clean Water Commerce Act of 2021
    SB0119 HB0507
    Establishing the Clean Water Commerce Fund as a special, nonlapsing fund; requiring the Department of the Environment to transfer $20,000,000 from the Bay Restoration Fund to the Clean Water Commerce Fund for certain purposes beginning in fiscal year 2022; altering the authorized uses of the Bay Restoration Fund to include certain transfers to the Clean Water Commerce Fund; repealing a certain authorization to use funds in the Bay Restoration Fund for costs associated with certain nutrient or sediment load reductions;
  • Environment - Office on Climate Change – Establishment
    SB0518 HB0503
    Establishing the Office on Climate Change in the Office of the Governor to facilitate the implementation of the Commission on Climate Change's recommendations; requiring the Office to ensure that each State agency addresses ways the agency can mitigate the causes of climate change and certain impacts of climate change; requiring the Office to initiate and oversee certain research and investigations; requiring the Office to submit an annual report to the Governor and certain committees of the General Assembly; etc.
  • Coast Smart Siting and Design Criteria - Private Construction or Reconstruction Projects and Enforcement
    SB0528 HB0512
    Applying Coast Smart siting and design criteria to certain private construction or reconstruction projects beginning on July 1, 2022; exempting certain private construction or reconstruction projects from the application of the Act; establishing that the Department of Natural Resources has sole responsibility for enforcement of the Act, subject to a certain delegation of enforcement authority; requiring the Secretary of Natural Resources to delegate certain enforcement authority to a certain county or municipality; etc.
  • Maryland Paint Stewardship
    HB0127
    Requiring certain producers or a representative organization to submit a plan for the establishment of a Paint Stewardship Program to the Department of the Environment on or before January 1, 2022, and in accordance with certain requirements; requiring the Department to review and approve certain plans, including a certain assessment, submitted in accordance with the Paint Stewardship Program; prohibiting the sale of certain architectural paint under certain circumstances on a certain date; etc.
  • Utility Regulation - Consideration of Climate and Labor
    SB083 HB0298
    Requiring the Secretary of the Environment to prepare a certain recommendation in connection with certain issues considered by the Public Service Commission; requiring the Secretary of Natural Resources to incorporate an evaluation of the impact of certain electric power plants on climate change into the Power Plant Research Program; requiring the Commission to consider the maintenance of fair and stable labor standards and the protection of the global climate in supervising and regulating certain public service companies; etc.

Fundraising – Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat: Nothing to report/

 

Membership – Lucie Geinzer – We have four new additional members.

 Publications – Amber Treat

 Voter Services – Cheryle Wharton  


January 2021 Minutes and Directors' Reports

League of Women Voters of Howard County, Inc.
Board Meeting Minutes
via Zoom
January 14, 2021

In attendance: Cynthia Williams, Barbara Russell, Virginia Kirk, Krista Threefoot, Linda Wengel, Linda Frascarella, Laura Mettle, Sandy Levy, Cheryle Wharton, Lucie Geinzer , Michelle Rice Trotter.
Absent: Amber Treat
 
Meeting called to order at 7:07 pm by President Cynthia Williams.

Changes to Agenda: There were no changes to the agenda.

President’s Report: Cynthia Williams referred the Board to her written report. See full President’s Report for specifics.

Secretary’s Report: Virginia Kirk – Laura Mettle moved, Lucie Geinzer seconded, that the December 10 Board Meeting minutes be approved. Motion passed.

Treasurer’s Report: Barbara Russell – As of December 31, 2020, the checking account balance is $53,430.73. There was not much activity since the last meeting.  The Treasurer’s Report will be filed for review.

Program Report: Krista Threefoot – The December meeting with Sheriff Marcus Harris and State’s Attorney Rich Gibson was well-attended. The January meeting will be devoted to reviewing the LWVMD positions and decided to retain, update, or drop each. The February meeting topic will be the LWVHC Education Study Report. There was a suggestion that a unit meeting be devoted to the Racial Equity Taskforce and that our Education Study, once a consensus is reached, be sent to them.

Directors’ Reports

Action: Linda Wengel – The funding for the New Cultural Center in Downtown Columbia was approved by the Council on January 4th. There will be 74 affordable housing units in a mixed income building.  There was no new legislation introduced which is particularly relevant to our issues. With the Housing Opportunities Task Force Report and the General Plan being completed by late spring, we will have plenty to consider. Forecast: APFO, zoning for multi-family housing, growth in general

Schools, schools, schools will be the divisive issues.

 

Communications—Internal: Linda Frascarella will take over putting out The Voter on a trial basis. Linda Wengel, Laura Mettle, Sandy Levy will send articles.

 

Education: Linda Frascarella -- There was a meeting of BOE on Jan 7 and then the BOE met with the County Council on Jan 11. The biggest topic is the pandemic.
Metrics set by BOE for returning to school are:
Per the Board of Education, HCPSS will move to a virtual environment if the HCHD/MDH reports a positivity rate above 5% over a 7-day range and the 7-day rolling average case rate per 100,000 increases to 10 or greater for two consecutive weeks, or based on a Howard County Health Department Recommendation. The positivity rates and rolling averages will serve as primary guides and other data points will be considered.

Here are some dates that were discussed:
Feb 1 - looking at moving to small groups (assuming the metrics are met)
Q4 - April: assuming metrics are met, assuming vaccines, would like a more robust in person offering
Striving for in person graduations and opportunities for Seniors to do senior activities

Vaccine -
HCPSS Staff was surveyed and, of those that responded, over 90% said they’d be willing to get the vaccine.
School Nurses will be partnering with MD Health department for vaccine administration / distribution.

 

Environment: Sandy Levy--

2020 State of the Bay Report - Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Overall score D+

 

NYTimes: The Year in Climate

 

Companies Seek to Green the Grid With Trash Gas

The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2020
Pipeline owners and utilities eye manure, landfills, sewage to burnish environmental credentials

 

50-year-old Maryland power plant to stop burning coal in 2027

Baltimore Sun, December 22, 2020

A 50-year-old power plant in Charles County is the latest in Maryland to announce its plans to stop burning coal in the years to come.

 

The coal-fired units at the Morgantown plant, which is run by GenOn Holdings, will be deactivated in 2027, the company said. The plant still will generate energy using natural gas and oil.

 

Stimulus deal includes raft of provisions to fight climate change

Washington Post, December 21, 2020

The most substantial federal investment in green technology in a decade includes billions for solar, wind, battery storage and carbon capture. Congress also agreed to cut the use of HFCs, chemicals used in refrigeration that are driving global warming.

 

To Cut Emissions to Zero, U.S. Needs to Make Big Changes in Next 10 Years

New York Times, December 15, 2020

New research details major infrastructure work — including immense construction projects — that would need to start right away to achieve Biden’s goal of zero emissions by 2050.

 

The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Conference

February 3-7 2021

Dr. John Francis, Planetwalker and our Keynote Speaker, will join us on February 6 at 1:00 PM. Dr. Francis advocates for our planet through his actions. He is a National Geographic Society Fellow, an author, a UN advisor in environmental education, and world-renowned speaker about his journey and how you can take action towards solution-based change.

 

Patapsco Heritage Greenway Announces FY2021 Mini-Grant Recipients

December 17, 2020

CONTACT : Aaron Shapiro, Executive Director | [email protected] | 410.696.1328

ELLICOTT CITY, MD—Patapsco Heritage Greenway’s (PHG) Patapsco Valley Heritage Area (PVHA) Mini-Grant Program is designed to assist heritage-related sites, organizations and municipalities to develop new and innovative programs, partnerships, exhibits, tours, events, and other initiatives consistent with the regional goals and objectives stated within our state and county approved Management Plan. The program, administered by Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG), encourages proposals that include collaborative partnerships, enhance preservation, encourage stewardship of natural resources, and promote heritage tourism.

 

Howard County Selected to Apply for EPA Loan for Ellicott City Safe & Sound North Tunnel

January 12, 2021

Media Contact:

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced the County was selected to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finance the North Tunnel and other flood mitigation projects as part of the Ellicott City Safe & Sound plan. The invitation to apply follows the County’s submission of a letter of interest last October and signals that the EPA intends to fund the projects included in the application, pending a review of detailed financial and engineering information. 

 

Maryland Legislature current bills related to the environment

 


Fundraising: Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat – Michelle Rice Trotter followed up with the financial planning seminar idea. There is nothing concrete planned, as yet. 

Membership: Lucie Geinzer – Membership is increasing. The total membership is now 121.

Publications: Amber Treat – absent

Voter Service:  Cheryle Wharton – Nothing to report.

Communications – External: Laura Mettle –Laura Mettle presented a proposal to professionalize our web presence. She moved, Linda Frascarella seconded, that we allocate up to $1,000 to the company Systems and Software to set up a domain and conduct training. Motion passed.  See the Directors’ Reports document for full details about the scope of work.

Unfinished Business

  • Website: See above
  • Racial Equity Task Force – Laura Mettle. All committees have had two meetings. Testimony from the public is welcome. There will be a report in the spring.
  • The Voter: See above – Communications External
  • Budget Committee Nominations – Barbara Russell noted that this committee needs to meet soon. Amber Treat and Linda Frascarella are representing the Board. Three non-board members needed.
  • Donations to MLAW, ACS, and the Food bank – Cynthia Williams. Cynthia Williams moved, Lucie Geinzer seconded, that we make $50 to MLAW and ACS and $100 to the Food bank. Motion Passed.
  • Ideas for staying active in the community – Cynthia Williams will organize volunteers for the Food Bank and other organizations, such as Columbia Cares.

 

New Business

  • Invite R. Novotny to the Legislative Breakfast. The general agreement was to invite him.
  • Allow Executive Ball introduction – General agreement to allow. There was a discussion of how the meeting will be organized. Krista Threefoot will host; Laura Mettle will monitor the chat room. Topics were sent to Representative Feldmark. Each legislator has a 5 minute introduction and a two minute summary.
  • Recruit One Person Drive – Lucie Geinzer noted that nothing has been done with this idea. Cynthia will follow up.
  • Voter deadline: 1/15/2021

 

 

Adjournment:  Michelle Rice Trotter moved, Krista Threefoot seconded, that the meeting be adjourned. Motion passed. The meeting was adjourned at 8:35pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Virginia Kirk, Secretary

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