AmericanFarm.com

Compromise over PMT sought for Hogan in Md.

By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
Senior Editor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Feb. 17, 2015) — With a committee hearing slated for next Tuesday on a bill that would codify the proposed controversial phosphorous management regulations in Maryland, discussions are under way seeking some sort of compromise.
The regulations governing the implementation of the so-called Phosphorous Management Tool were instituted by former Gov. Martin O’Malley only a few days before he left office,
And they were yanked by newly elected Gov. Larry Hogan within hours of taking the oath of office.
Hogan said the whole business of phosphorous management in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the use of the PMT on that task needed more study. It didn’t take very long for Democrats, who dominate the General Assembly, to challenge the new Republican governor.
Sen. Paul Pinsky, of Prince Georges County is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 257 which, in essence, mimics the PMT rules, regulations and authority that O’Malley shepherded through the legislature and which Hogan pulled off the legislative table.
It is slated for a hearing Feb. 24 before the Senate Education, Health ad Environmental Affairs Committee at 1 p.m.
Seven members representing a majority of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee were among the 14 co-sponsors of SB 257.
In connection with the introduction of the Pinsky measure,
Alison Prost, Maryland executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Voundation, noted that “Maryland legislators of both political parties have a history of joining together to support practical solutions to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams in Maryland. We’re cautiously optimistic this initial wave of support to reduce agricultural pollution will continue to grow.”
Prost added, “This legislation will be a long term win-win for both farmers’ bottom lines, and the health of polluted Eastern Shore rivers such as the Choptank, and the Bay. Less poop on our farm fields means less pollution in the water resulting in safer swimming areas, more fish, crabs and oysters”
Discussions under way seeking a path to compromise became urgent when it became apparent that should the Pinsky bill become law, Hogan would face the politically uncomfortable possibility of a veto.
Among the compromise possibilities, observers note, is a trial run for the PMT to see if it works the way it is touted to work.