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Maryland General Assembly Legislation Update

You know we are following electric vehicle legislation in the General Assembly. One of several bills on this topic, HB696, Public Utilities – Electric School Bus Pilot Program is coming up for a hearing before House Economic Matters on February 10. It sets up a pilot program for electric school buses. If this is important to you, public testimony must be submitted two business days in advance. Details here.

It’s hard to keep up with all the environment-related bills in the General Assembly; there are over 60 currently under consideration! To that end, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters is providing easy ways to keep us all up to date.

There’s a quick, online session every Friday during which Maryland LCV Executive Director Kim Coble provides updates on “pressing legislative issues, our strategy for the General Assembly, and potential hurdles to achieving our legislative goals.” The Friday Digest: Environmental Legislation Update is free, from noon to 12:30. But you must register. Click here to be part of it. It’s well worth a half-hour of your time.

Maryland LCV also offers an email newsletter, Conservation Weekly. To receive them, sign up here.

Here’s an article from Conservation Weekly that explains a very important bill that would ban dangerous forever chemicals. Thanks to MDLCV for allowing us to reprint this. Read on.

Banning PFAS: A Closer Look into the George “Walter” Taylor Act (SB273/ HB275)

What PFAS Are
A common class of chemicals, per- and poly-fluoro alkyl substances (known as PFAS) are used in a variety of household products including stain-resistant rugs, non-stick pans, and in food packaging. They are also used in some fire-fighting foams and manufacturing to make things greaseproof and water-resistant.

Why PFAS are Bad
PFAS are often called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in our bodies or in the natural environment, and they have been linked to negative health impacts. When PFAS end up in our food and water, they put our health at risk.

Elevated levels of PFAS in blood have been associated with health concerns, including cancer, thyroid disruption, and reduced vaccine response.

The Maryland Department of Environment has found PFAS in 75% of the drinking water it has tested (check your water quality here). And it has been documented within Maryland seafood. There is known contamination in and around more than a dozen military sites. Firefighters, active military and their families, and children are most at risk of PFAS exposure, but everyone is vulnerable.

What this Bill Proposes
Maryland LCV is working with our partners and environmental champions Senator Sarah Elfreth (D30, Anne Arundel County) and Delegate Sara Love (D16, Montgomery County), to restrict the use and disposal of PFAS chemicals. This bill would stop the use of PFAS in firefighting foam, food packaging, rugs, and carpets. It will require notification for PFAS in firefighting gear and prevent the mass disposal of PFAS chemicals by incineration and landfilling.

Who this Bill is Named For
George “Walter” Taylor was a career firefighter in Southern Maryland who passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer. His widow testified this week during the hearing in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee on February 2. The Taylors firmly believe that PFAS were the source of the cancer that killed Walter.

What’s Next
Another hearing is set in the House Health and Government Operations committee for February 9. After the hearings, it’s up to the committees to bring the bill up for a vote. If approved, the bill then goes to the House and Senate floors for a vote to move it along the legislative process.


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