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So. Maryland fared well in eventful General Assembly Session

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on May 15, 2001:

Senator Dyson Some have suggested that the 2001 General Assembly Session was “boring” and “uneventful.” Well I was in Annapolis for the entire 90-day Session and it was anything, but boring. Many controversial issues threatened to close down business in the Senate as some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle mustered mini-filibusters.

But despite the occasional tense moments, I was pleased we were able to get through the filibusters in order to produce an excellent session for Southern Maryland.

Going into this year, we had a tentative agreement that the state would pay our tobacco farmers a subsidy for switching to an alternative crop. But that agreement was on very shaky foundation. That’s why legislation, Senate Bill 532, was introduced by Governor Glendening and sponsored by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., myself and Senator Thomas McLain “Mac” Middleton. Senate Bill 532 ensures that our farmers participating in the tobacco buyout program will receive the disbursement of money they are entitled to for no longer growing this crop.

This was perhaps the most substantial piece of legislation that benefited Southern Maryland. While I hate to say it, tobacco farming is virtually dead in Maryland and it’s good that our farmers who have lived off of this crop for years, will be properly compensated for basically being “laid off” from their job.

I’ll never tire of saying that tobacco built and sustained this state. Our tobacco farmers past and present deserve our greatest praise.

I was also obviously very pleased that another major priority of mine sailed so quickly through both houses of the General Assembly.

The first bill I introduced this year was Senate Bill 117. I consider this a major piece of environmental legislation for not just Southern Maryland, but for all of the state. This bill will authorize the Maryland Public Service Commission to take over inspection pipeline regulatory authority from the National Transportation Safety Board’s Office of Pipeline Safety. Instead of sporadic inspections of Maryland’s intrastate hazardous liquid pipelines as was done by the federal government in the past, the PSC is now mandated to inspect these pipelines at least once a year. If this legislation had been in force before April 7, 2000, it is almost certain that the spill that dumped 130,000 gallons of oil into the Patuxent River would not have occurred.

This bill goes a long ways towards making sure something of this magnitude does not happen again.

Another great bill that I was proud to co-sponsor and strongly support was one spearheaded by Senator Middleton with the blessing of the entire Southern Maryland Delegation. Senate Bill 432 gives a much-needed rate increase to those who do some of the most necessary, but under appreciated work in our community -- those who provide services for the developmentally disabled.

This bill requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to increase the rate of reimbursement paid to community providers of treatment or services to developmentally disabled individuals beginning July 1, 2002. It also mandates that the Department determine a disparity amount that is a calculation of the difference in wages and benefits between community direct service workers and developmental disabilities associates or other employees in State residential centers and to eliminate the disparity amount.

There were 2,365 bills and 43 joint resolutions introduced this year. Nine-hundred-twenty-seven bills passed as did 14 joint resolutions. I believe Senate Bill 117, Senate Bill 432 and Senate Bill 532 were vital or Southern Marylanders.

Of course the session had its series of interesting bills. One to make skunks household pets for instance drew a lot of press before it died in a House committee.

So, once again, I’m pleased to report to you that Southern Maryland was a real winner in this year’s Session.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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