By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson
The annual 90-day General Assembly Session is over and I was pleased with its overall outcome.
Throughout the Session, I wrote about several bills that I introduced or co-sponsored and many of these bills have become law or will soon after the governors signature.
Two bills that I sponsored drew considerable attention. They included Senate Bill 532 Natural Resources Diamondback Terrapin Take and Possession—and Senate Bill 702 Yellow Perch Conservation and Sustainability Act. Both of these bills were successful.
Senate Bill 532 will protect one of Marylands precious resources, the Diamondback Terrapin. People were shocked that this great symbol of Maryland is actually allowed to be harvested from the wild and sold off mainly to China and turned into turtle soup. My legislation will prevent the taking of this species from the wild and help ensure that the Diamondback Terrapin will not become extinct or endangered.
After running a story on this bills hearing on Baltimores Channel 13, the reporter who covered the story later told me she had never received so many calls about any issue than this.
Senate Bill 702 requires the Department of Natural Resources to provide a management strategy for yellow perch that enables them to migrate to historical spawning rivers and streams before spawning and equitably allocate harvest of yellow perch between recreational and commercial fishermen. This bill received the endorsement of outdoors writers James Drake and Angus Phillips. It prevents yellow perch from being caught up in nets during a very pivotal time in the spawning season.
Another bill I was proud to sponsor adds an Advanced Nurse Practitioners voice to the State Board of Nursing by giving them membership on the Board. This was a high priority for our Advanced Nurse Practitioners who need to have a stronger voice on the Board. Nursing has become highly specialized today and those who practice Advanced Nursing need their perspective to be a part of the Nursing Board.
Senate Bill 701 which I sponsored was a high priority for the Maryland State Firemans Association. The minute I was asked by them to put it in, I did so. I am very proud of the work this association does. They are some of the hardest working people in Annapolis during the Session, attending every hearing of importance to them, being available to testify and constantly lobbying Senators, Delegates and the Governor for issues that concern all of us and our safety.
I also sponsored Senate Bill 1030 which passed in the waning hours of the session to further strengthen our critical areas laws which people who encroach on our precious but endangered waterways—always seen to be trying to flaunt.
I was also pleased to sponsor a bill requested by St. Marys College of Maryland one of the finest four-year colleges in the state—that clarifies a portion of the law that helps them with their procurement authority.
St. Marys and Calvert County also did very well in bond bill funding. While money was tight in the budget, I was able to procure $50,000 for SMARTCOs Computer Technology Learning Center as well as $50,000 for the St. Marys Hospice House and $100,000 for the St. Marys Agriculture Service Center. Local bond money was also allocated in the amount of $100,000 for Annmarie Garden in Calvert County as well as $150,000 for the Arc of Southern Maryland Community Resource Center and $250,000 for the Project Echo Homeless Shelter also located in Calvert County. St. Marys County projects such as the St. Clements Island Lighthouse received $100,000; the St. Marys College Amphitheater received $75,000 and Tudor Hall received $25,000. I put in a bond bill for the Camp Winona Girls Scout Camp located in Hughesville as I have in the past. Unfortunately, I did not get any money for this project, but I am pursuing other avenues such as the Maryland Department of Environment to help them with pay for much-needed improvements.
So, overall, I was very happy with the way the 2007 General Assembly Session played out and I look forward to further summarizes what other accomplishments we were able to achieve in this years legislative Session in future columns.