March 5, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Gabrielle Titow, (410) 841-3645

 

2022 Maryland General Assembly Update

Week Eight: Carozza Bill Hearings on Ocean City Life-Saving Museum, Shrimp Industry, and Forest Products; and Maryland Support for the People of Ukraine

 

Annapolis, MD – This week’s highlights include Senator Carozza’s three bill hearings on proposed legislation allowing for renovations and limited expansion to existing facilities in the Beach Erosion District including the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum, establishing guidelines for a new shrimp fishery, and setting up a firewood certification program for Maryland forest product operators. This week also featured strong support from Annapolis for the people of Ukraine with Carozza joining her colleagues in the Senate to cosponsor a bipartisan joint Senate Resolution stating that the State of Maryland stands in solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine.

 

Senate Bill 64 Beach Erosion Control District

Under current law, any construction activity with some specific, narrow exemptions is prohibited in the Beach Control District. This means that under current law certain important Ocean facilities cannot be repaired or replaced including the Ocean City Amusement Pier, the Ocean City Inlet Parking Lot, and the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum. Senate Bill 64 would provide a mechanism to repair, replace and, with specific limitations, add on to these existing facilities with the approval of the Ocean City Mayor and Council and the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. “The immediate need for passage of SB 64 is to bring the historic Ocean City Life-Saving Museum into compliance with the federal American for Disabilities Act and to use the $600,000 in funding that the Maryland General Assembly approved last year,” said Carozza. 

 

Senate Bill 537 Shrimp Fishery

The Maryland General Assembly last year approved legislation that granted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources the authority to establish a shrimp fishery pilot program for certain commercial licenses. Since the passage of last year’s bill, there is a need for clear guidance, specifically, over the parameters and potential conflicts with existing regulations created for other fisheries that did not apply to this new shrimp fishery. SB 537 is clarifying legislation giving the Maryland Department of Natural Resources the authority to adopt regulations for the new shrimp fishery.

 

Local and lifelong commercial fisherman Sonny Gwin, who operates the Skilligalee in West Ocean City, testified in person at the March 1st hearing. “We would like to have the opportunity to participate in this new fishery as well as the opportunity to fish in the areas where the shrimp are located. We also believe that the data that could be collected in this fishery would be valuable, not only in the shrimp fishery, but could give insight into future stock shifts in other fisheries,” said Gwin in his testimony.

 

“During current uncertain times with supply chain issues and food shortages, our commercial seafood harvesters consistently provide local, relatively inexpensive, unprocessed food choices. But watermen are taking a risk when beginning to engage in a new fishery. They deserve our support in making this pilot program a workable, flexible alternative” said Carozza.

 

Senate Bill 695 Forest Industry

Carozza’s Senate Bill 695 would establish the Voluntary Firewood Treatment Certification Program in the Department of Natural Resources to certify forest product operators who export firewood to other states and to use heat treatment and other procedures to prevent the presence of wood pests in the firewood products. The program authorized by SB 695 is voluntary, applying only to those operators with commercial firewood dry kilns who would like state certification. 

 

Carozza testified, “The sense of urgency to establish a firewood treatment certification program at the state level at this time is due to the United States Department of Agriculture’s decision earlier this year to end its certification of commercial dry kiln operations for firewood for controlling the spread of Emerald Ash Borders (EAB). Since Maryland currently does not have a certification program nor the statutory authority to create one, SB 695 is necessary to allow existing operators in Maryland to continue to export their firewood products to other states. Maryland Forest Association’s Executive Director Beth Hill and Vice President Joe Hinson supported Carozza and testified in a strong support of the proposed legislation.

 

Maryland Stands People of Ukraine

On March 2nd, Governor Hogan led a solidarity vigil for Ukraine in front of the State House and was joined by Ukraine Embassy officials, Maryland General Assembly leaders, Ukrainian Americans, and the general public. 

 

“In the face of evil, the Ukrainian people have shown the world what it means to defend freedom, and reminded us that freedom and liberty are worth fighting and risking your lives for,” said Governor Hogan.

 

“I am proud to stand with the people of Ukraine at the Governor’s State House Prayer Service with our legislative leaders, members, and all,” said Carozza after the Ukraine Prayer Service.

 

Senator Carozza joined with her Senate colleagues in cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and remove Russian funds from Maryland pensions.

 

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Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate