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Maryland General Assembly: Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights

maryland state house view with flowers

And they’re back! The General Assembly opened on January 12, and many environmental bills have already been pre-filed – that is, already written and waiting for committee assignments and scheduling of hearing dates. Annapolis Green is again working with the environmental community to urge our elected officials to do good by the environment.

One bill of interest is a proposal to amend the Maryland Constitution to state that “each person, as a matter of human dignity, has the fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment.” This would elevate our right to good health to the same legal level as the right to freedom of religion and speech, for example.

To become law, the proposed Constitutional Amendment for Environmental Human Rights must pass with a three-fifths vote in both the House and Senate and then be approved by voters in next November’s ballot.

Why this and why now? This concept is not new – it is already on the books in several states. This Constitutionally based protection for Marylanders carries more weight than environmental laws and regulations and would give Marylanders more power to hold state and local jurisdictions accountable for violations of their environmental rights. This is especially important for marginalized communities that have been disproportionately affected by pollution and a degraded environment. And it makes clear that the state has a stewardship role for the environment.

Environmental Human Rights Amendment Annapolis Green, along with 60 other nonprofit organizations, has expressed support. If this legislation makes sense to you, there are several things you can do. Just click here to learn more.

Get involved with your state government!

Attend the virtual Environmental Rights Stakeholder Rally on Friday, January 14, from noon to 1 pm. For more information and to sign up, click here or follow on Facebook. All RSVPs will receive a Zoom link for the event and a copy of the recording after the program.

Read this article by former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest about why he supports the amendment.

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