A Message from the Secretary

May 2016

“At least I hope and pray that I will, But today I am still just a bill.”
– Schoolhouse Rock!


The Maryland General Assembly has adjourned, primary day has passed and now the focus shifts from politics and policy in Annapolis to our gorgeous state lands and waterways. While you may be focusing on repairing your crab pots, staking out wild turkeys, preparing for Park Quest or unwrapping your boat for the summer, I wanted to take a moment to recap the most recent legislative session…and boy, was it a busy one.

The department tracked more than 150 proposed bills, which covered a gamut of areas, interests and issues from aquaculture and boating to forestry and wildlife. While a majority of the proposals were never enrolled (considered/passed), over 60 bills passed both chambers and now await a decision from Governor Larry Hogan.

Of the bills that have been passed and signed so far, here are a few of note:

  • HB462 – Restores millions of dollars to the state’s land conservation, preservation and recreation programs, including the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Fund, Rural Legacy and Program Open Space. It also works to properly fund and protect conservation funding from future raids and transfers.
  • HB799 – Establishes and strengthens penalties for individuals who enter a leased aquaculture area and cause specified harm. It also makes that person legally liable for civil damages and trespassing.
  • SB4 – Changes the composition of the Maryland Environmental Trust Board of Trustees to ensure that members are appointed and elected in a specified and transparent manner. The Trust works with landowners, communities and citizen land trusts to protect the state’s most treasured landscapes and natural resources.
  • SB219 – Authorizes hunters in Carroll County to hunt turkey on private property on Sundays during the season. This law was an emergency measure, which means it went into effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.
  • SB323 – Enhances the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act and requires the state to reduce statewide gas emissions by 40 percent. The bipartisan legislation was based on a recommendation of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change of which the department is a member. (I have the privilege of chairing the Adaptation and Response Working Group.)

At the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, we take the responsibility of educating, engaging and informing the public about legislative proposals and laws seriously and have developed a website to do just that. I encourage you to visit our new legislation page to view these bills in more detail as well as our presentations and testimony.

DNR Secretary Belton's Signature

Mark Belton

Natural Resources Secretary

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