By Sen. Roy Dyson

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]

21 February 1997

The reality finally is sinking in for the skeptics. The people are really coming with their several thousand jobs from the Naval Air Systems Command in Virginia. And here's the reality check: they'll be moved in by the end of August. To accomplish the move 300 tractor-trailers filled with equipment will be on our roads from now until then.

It not only behooves our area to make sure that we have the infrastructure to handle the growth, but we also must be sure that with the growth we won't lose our identity. It is indeed possible to protect what we love about our area, but it is going to take a firm determination from everyone involved in the decision-making process.

The two ways-of-life which will be most in jeopardy with this growth are the farming and fishery industries. Here in Annapolis this session there are three state-wide bills which attempt to address problems those industries are having all around the state.

I am cosponsor of Senate Bill (SB) 226, known as the Maryland Right to Farm law. Under this proposal, which has the support of Governor Glendening and legislative leadership, the types of agricultural activities which are protected from public or private nuisance actions are expanded. They include the cultivation, raising, harvesting, or production of any farm product or any commercial activity related to agricultural activity.

Development puts pressure on adjacent farmland. Newly arrived residential dwellers can raise complaints about noise, odor, and other objectionable-to-them activities. This bill recognizes that agriculture was there first and should be protected. The bill, as this is being written, had passed out of a Senate committee and appeared sure of passage in the Senate. It next goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.

The second farming bill sets up a Task Force on the Future of Maryland Agriculture. This bill sailed through the Senate on a 46-0 vote and appears sure of passage in the House as well. I think it's a good idea to take a comprehensive look at what's happening to farming and our farmland.

For the more than two years I've been back in the Maryland General Assembly my office has received a number of calls about the unfairness of people wanting to become watermen being precluded from doing so by the existing waiting lists designed to limit entry to protect the existing stock. Many young people would like a career on the water but instead choose something else because they are unwilling or unable financially to wait several years to get a license.

After much discussion with Department of Natural Resources officials, environmentalists and watermen, I have introduced SB 725. The bill retains the waiting lists but allows someone to jump over the waiting list if they enter into a three-year apprenticeship program. We are also attempting to work out some language which would allow persons with past experience to jump over the waiting list if they can prove the experience and if they are willing to enter into a one-year apprenticeship program.

This idea has been modified several times since we have been here in Annapolis this year to address concerns of the various sides involved. We feel we are close to a compromise which will have broad acceptance.

SB 725 is scheduled to he heard on March 11 at 1 p.m. in my committee, the Senate Economic and Environmental Matters Committee. Joe Sider, an intern in our Annapolis office, has been doing a yeoman job in working on this bill. If you have any ideas about how we can make it better please call Joe at 1-800-492-71232, extension 3673 or 301-858-3673. And we'd like as many people as possible to come up from St. Mary's and Calvert counties to testify at the hearing.

[ Senator Dyson's Newletter ]