Hydraulic Dredging Ban Signed Into Law

BERLIN – Nearly one year to the day from the untimely
passing of the Delegate Bennett Bozman, Governor Martin O’Malley officially
signed the bill prohibiting hydraulic dredging for clams and oysters in the
coastal bays into law.

O’Malley, along with Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, Senate
President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and Speaker of the House Michael Busch, on
Tuesday officially signed House Bill 964, which prohibits the practice of
dredging for clams and oysters in the fragile coastal bays. Ironically, the
bill signing ceremony came just two days before the one-year anniversary of the
death of Bozman, who championed the cause for the last few years but died
before the legislation’s passage became a reality this year, thanks largely to
his replacement in Annapolis.

Bozman entered legislation banning dredging in the coastal
bays in each of his last two sessions, but the bill died each time for
different reasons.

This year, Bozman’s successor, Delegate James Mathias
(D-38B) along with Delegate Norman Conway, championed the late delegate’s cause
and were able to get it passed by both chambers after a heated battle that wore
on until the 2007 session’s final days. Over the last week or 10 days of the
session, the dredge ban bill seemed to have nine lives as its fate twisted and
turned several times.

Mathias, who was instrumental in getting the sometimes
controversial bill passed this year, was quick to point out the groundwork his
predecessor did on the landmark legislation.

“It’s somewhat symbolic, if not coincidental, that the
Governor’s signing of this bill happened just two days from the anniversary of
Bennett’s passing,” he said this week. “Bennett did the leg work for this
important bill and it’s fitting that it became law almost on the anniversary of
his death. It’s part of his legacy and reflects his years of service on behalf
of this district.”

Mathias said the official signing by the governor brings
closure to one of his first real battles in the General Assembly.

“This bill will restore and protect the coastal bays for
future generations,” he said. “It will help restore a lot of the things we have
taken for granted in recent years.”

The signing of the dredge ban bill on Tuesday was one of
173 signed by the Governor that day, most of which were related to the
environment. For example, O’Malley also signed into law the Maryland Clean Cars
Act, which implements stronger emissions regulations for cars sold and
registered in the state.

Also signed into law was a bill creating a Maryland Green
Building Council, which, when implemented, will advise the Governor and the
General Assembly on how they can best use green building practices on future
state projects. The Governor also signed the Stormwater Management Act of 2007,
which will require the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to adopt
new regulations and a model ordinance to manage stormwater runoff.

Those are just a handful of the environment-related bills
signed into law this week by O’Malley, who pledged early on to work on
initiatives to improve, protect and restore Maryland’s natural resources.

“I am proud that working together this session, we were
able to pass legislation to make Maryland a leader in protecting the
environment,” O’Malley said.