Bill Banning Styrofoam to Have One Less Hurdle

    Legislation to ban all polystyrene products in Maryland will face one less hurdle in the state Senate this year. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery), has been assigned to just one committee for consideration this year — Education, Health and Environmental Affairs.

    Last year, similar legislation was assigned to two committees in the Senate — EHEA and Finance — and two in the House of Delegates, Environment and Transportation and Economic Matters. It was killed in the Economic Matters panel.

    The change was not lost on Minority Whip Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Upper Shore) — who serves on the Finance Committee — as Kagan’s bill was being formally introduced on the Senate floor Monday night. He questioned why his panel was being stripped of its jurisdiction.

    “It seemed to be more of a business regulation,” Hershey said.

    But Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) rejected the argument.

    “It’s strictly an environment bill,” he said, assuring Hershey: “You’ll have your opportunity to debate it” on the Senate floor.

    The companion House bill, sponsored by Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City), still has the dual committee assignment. But the statewide polystyrene ban is expected to be on the list of legislative leaders’ top priorities for the General Assembly session, which they plan to release Tuesday morning.

    Similar bans already exist in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, Baltimore City, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., among other nearby jurisdictions. A ban passed in the Anne Arundel County Council last year but was vetoed by then-executive Steve Schuh (R). The current executive, Steuart Pittman (D), has vowed to sign the legislation this year.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.