MRN Advocacy 2023
End of Session Update (4/20/23): This year’s 90-day session closed April 10 after a head-spinning madhouse run through over 3,000 bills of which 810 made it across the finish line. The General Assembly passed only three of the 16 bills we were tracking (click here for the list). These included a permit exemption for on-farm composting (HB0253/SB0262), procurement requirements for compost, mulch, soil amendments and recycled aggregate (HB0586/SB0782), and last, but not least, a very slimmed-down version of the EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) for packaging bill.
In response to advocacy from MRN and a number of other industry organizations, the EPR bill has been scaled back to the establishment of an Advisory Council and a Producer Responsibility Organization and most importantly, requiring a needs assessment to confirm a sustainable and financially viable basis on which to implement EPR in Maryland. The final version of the bill can be seen here.
Though versions of the Paint Stewardship bill (HB0255/SB0260) passed both the House and the Senate, the final reconciled version did not make it through the chaotic rush to adjournment at midnight on April 10. Hopefully, the bill can succeed in 2024 after nearly five years on the docket.
Read a full recap of the 2023 session.
While the Maryland General Assembly does not formally go into session until January, lots of work is going on in preparation. MRN does its best to stay ahead of the game by keeping in touch with key legislators on the Senate and House environment committees in order to provide subject matter expertise when they are drafting legislation that could impact our industry.
We also do our best to provide education to staff from the Department of Legislative Services who draft legislation at the request of legislators. This year we hosted DLS staff on a tour of the Prince Georges County Western Branch composting facility and the Capitol Heights MRF.
Here’s what’s on deck so far. We’re sure there’s more to come. Click here to see current legislation under consideration as well as our responses to specific bills as applicable.
E-Cycling – On September 28, 2022, MRN’s E-Cycling Workgroup met with Delegate Dana Stein to begin drafting e-cycling legislation for the 2023 session of the Maryland General Assembly. The workgroup is looking at a model that potentially incorporates a consumer fee to fund the program and includes requirements for certification and oversight of the participating e-cyclers as well as an information campaign to build consumer awareness regarding the environmental importance of keeping electronics out of the waste stream.
EPR for Packaging – MRN’s Legislative Advocacy Group led by Chaz Miller is working with Delegate Sara Love on parameters for an EPR for Packaging bill that addresses many of the concerns raised regarding the 2022 Senate Bill 292 and House Bill 307. These include a comprehensive needs assessment, local government reimbursement, processing facility selection and more. See the MRN Response for details.
Others Likely to Appear – There are a number of bills which stalled in committee last year which are likely to be brought back in 2023. These include:
• Paint Stewardship
• Environmental Justice
• Mattress Stewardship
• Post-consumer Recycled Content
• Truth in Labeling
• … and more
Organics and AD Systems – We participated in a workgroup call headed up by Andrew Cassilly, Chief Legislative Officer for Governor Hogan, along with Hans Schmidt, Assistant Secretary for Resource Conservation at the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Dr. Stephanie Lansing walked us through a variety of options for food waste management and energy production through anaerobic digestion. The group expressed special interest in the possible deployment of small-scale digesters throughout the Maryland farming community.
HB 164 Markets Development – MDE has scheduled a Recycling Market Development Workshop on December 6, 2022 from 1-2:30 pm. House Bill 164 requires MDE to promote the development of markets for recycled materials and recycled products in the State. It also requires the Office to evaluate the availability of recycling markets and identify businesses in the State that use recycled materials. MRN has been in conversations with MDE staff regarding opportunities to help with the implementation of this bill. Learn more here.
EPA National Recycling Strategy and Funding Options for Education & Outreach – We also participated in a national Recycling Organizations Council Call last week featuring Swarupa Ganguli, Acting Chief, Resource Conservation Branch at EPA, regarding funding options totaling $75m for Recycling Education & Outreach. This grant program, which will become available to counties and municipalities by year end, supports key EPA goals to increase collection and reduce contamination. MRN will be hosting a free webinar on Thursday, January 26 at Noon at which Ganguli and her staff will provide more details and guidance on the grant application process. Register here. (Update: Listen to full webinar here)
EPR for Packaging in the Works – The MRN Legislative Committee, headed up by Chaz Miller, has been working closely with MD Delegate Love and Senator Augustine to come up with an EPR model that could work in our state. Key issues on which we’re focused include ensuring local control of materials processing, fair and sustainable revenue sharing, accommodation for subscription-based residential as well as commercial recycling programs, and inclusion of a comprehensive needs assessment. We have recommended establishment of a workgroup in the spring of next year to address these issues and produce a bill for 2024 that will truly meet the needs of all stakeholders while achieving the EPR goals of securing funding for local recycling programs and protecting our environment.
MRN Legislative Task Force chair, Chaz Miller testified 2/9/2023 (view testimony here) before the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee re MRN’s response to Senate Bill 222 Reducing Packaging Materials - Producer Responsibility and Senate Bill 260 Maryland Paint Stewardship. While MRN fully endorses the paint stewardship bill, we support but offered a number of amendments to SB222, the EPR for packaging bill. 233
During a long session on February 22, Legislative Task Force chair Chaz Miller testified in front of the House Environment and Transportation Committee on four bills:
While we support all four, we do offer a number of amendments to HB 342 (Recycled Content) and HB 284 (EPR). Read a quick update and view the testimonies.
We have also submitted written testimony on the following four bills:
Read below for descriptions and statements of each bill where applicable.
If you have any comments or questions in the meanwhile, please don’t hesitate to contact us by reply by email or at (443) 741-8740.