2018 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

Aerial photo of the Annapolis State House 695x352

An aerial view of the State House in Annapolis, Maryland.

Nikki Davis

CBF tracked 150 bills this session and engaged on those we felt we could affect water quality for better or worse. The report below summarizes a subset of the bills we engaged on that we considered most impactful or of greatest interest to our members.

Thank you for all the actions you have taken to weigh in with your legislators about the bills that are important to the restoration and future health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We couldn't have come so far this session without you!

Find out more on our podcast.

CBF Priority Legislation

  • House Bill 766/Senate Bill 610 sought to update the Forest Conservation Act of 1991 to clearly define and better protect Maryland's most valuable "Priority Forests." The final amended legislation would have commissioned a study to provide a comprehensive view on what is happening with Maryland's forests and the current attempts at mitigating forest loss. In a troubling move, the General Assembly allowed this amended legislation to die on the final day of session. As amended, the bills had the support of the conservation community and opponents had withdrawn their opposition.

Bills That Passed

Land Use

  • House Bill 620 allows for the extension of agricultural preservation programs and fund for county use before recertification and remittance to the state by an additional two and three years, respectively. This bill will help local governments effectively implement the funding over a longer span of time, which will in turn increase their revenues. 
  • House Bill 1588 prohibits use of the "change or mistake" rule to apply for industrial zoning based on the presence of solar panels, and also defines the term "energy generating system."  
  • House Bill 43/Senate Bill 133 encourages individuals to sell or donate conservation easements by creating a state income tax subtraction modification for the first $50,000 of a perpetual conservation easement sale.


  • House Bill 572/Senate Bill 153 encourages businesses and individuals to recycle oyster shell by increasing the oyster shell tax credit by twofold and extends the termination date of the credit to June 30, 2021.

Climate Change

  • House Bill 993/Senate Bill 898, also known as the Maryland Pension Climate Change Risk Act, requires the Board of the State Retirement and Pension System to adopt policies regarding the management of climate risks in their investment strategy. 
  • House Bill 1350/Senate Bill 1006 expands the applicability of the Coast Smart siting and design criteria established by the Coast Smart Council to address saltwater intrusion, hazard mitigation, and nuisance flooding. 
  • House Bill 3/Senate Bill 138 requires the governor to include Maryland as a member in the U.S. Climate Alliance regarding the 1992 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement, which President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from. The U.S. Climate Alliance is a bi-partisan coalition of states that are committed to staying consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement despite the federal government's intention.

Septic Systems

  • House Bill 1765 expands the authorized uses of Maryland Department of the Environment's Septics Account to include funding for local jurisdictions to provide financial assistance to homeowners for the pumping out of a septic system. This expansion allows local jurisdictions to count this assistance as a reduction in nitrogen load to a jurisdiction's watershed implementation plan.

Offshore Drilling

  • House Bill 1456/Senate Bill 1128, also known as the Offshore Drilling Liability Act, establishes that an "offshore drilling activity" is an ultrahazardous activity and that a person that causes a spill is strictly liable for the damages caused.


  • House Bill 104/Senate Bill 149 allows for voluntary donations to 2010 Trust Fund when purchasing natural resources licenses online through DNR's electronic licensing system.

CBF Supported Bills That Did Not Pass

  • House Bill 1453/Senate Bill 732 would have increased the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements to 50 percent by 2030 and remove certain incineration energy sources. It died in the House Economic Matters Committee.
  • House Bill 538/Senate Bill 651 would have banned the use or sale of expanded polystyrene (foam) products in the state. It died in the House Economic Matters Committee and Senate Finance Committee.
  • House Bill 715 would have required increased notice to the public and homeowners regarding applications for energy generating facilities and required public hearings. It died in the House Economic Matters Committee.
  • House Bill 26/Senate Bill 133 would have required air monitoring for large confined animal feeding operations.
  • House Bill 812/Senate Bill 691 would have established strict criteria and considerations for eminent domain of conserved land for utility lines.
  • House Bill 116/Senate Bill 500 would have banned the sale or use of chlorpyrifos in the state.
  • House Bill 1381 would have required local governments in charge of local soil pollution laws to provide an annual report on enforcement activity.
  • House Bill 1390 would have required enhanced public benefits to accompany long-term development agreements.
  • House Bill 1428 would have required protection against 100-year flood events in certain historic flood-prone districts.
  • Senate Bill 1234 would have required incorporation of electric vehicles into certain state fleets.
  • Senate Bill 1236 would have required an environmental impact analysis for certain transporation projects.
  • Senate Joint Resolution 11 would have stated the General Assembly's opposition to offshore oil and gas drilling.

CBF Opposed Bills That Did Not Pass

  • House Bill 316—Exemptions from the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program
  • House Bill 361/Senate Bill 314—Bay Restoration Fund Fee Exemption and Allocation Adjustments
  • House Bill 560/Senate Bill 34—Repeal of Eastern Shore Authority for Bay Bridge Crossings
  • House Bill 1135/Senate Bill 1058—Prohibitions on Offshore Wind Generation
  • House Bill 1168/Senate Bill 1125—Surface Mining on Conservation Easements
  • House Bill 1345—Repeal of Portions of the Tier Map/Septic Law
  • House Bill 1360—Winter Application of Sewage Sludge
  • Senate Bill 926—Prohibition on Alternative Substrates for Oyster Restoration
  • House Bill 947/Senate Bill 958—Diversions from the 2010 Trust Fund
  • House Bill 1077/Senate Bill 1070—Structural shoreline stabilization in state wetlands and waterways
  • House Bill 1155—Perpetual septic percolation test approvals
  • Senate Bill 119/Senate Bill 229—Program Open Space funding for school construction
  • House Bill 1426—Aquaculture probation area expansion

The Bay Needs You

The 2018 State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

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