On Thursday, January 21, League staff testified in opposition to SB 121/ HB 51, which would require a local governing body to require the preparation of an environmental justice analysis upon an initial application for a special exception to construct or operate a landfill in an area zoned for residential use, or upon an application to extend or renew such a special exception.
However, MML’s concerns were focused on the uncodified language in the bill that directed the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to study and make recommendations regarding strategies for increasing State oversight of, and involvement in, local zoning decisions that present environmental justice concerns. After a conversation with the sponsor, Senator Patterson, about MML’s need for support – not oversight – the Senator agreed to amend the framework of the study in the following way:
(a) The Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities shall study and make recommendations regarding strategies for increasing State
oversight of, and involvement in, local zoning decisions that present SUPPORT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND COMMUNITIES IN ADDRESSING environmental justice concerns.
(b) (1) On or before December 1, 2021, the Commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and, in accordance with § 2–1257 of the State Government Article, the General Assembly.
(2) The report shall include specific recommendations regarding regulatory, policy, and legislative changes necessary to authorize the Department of the Environment to address
, through State permitting processes or other means, environmental justice concerns IN COLLABORATION WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND COMMUNITIES created or exacerbated by local zoning decisions.
In addition to this, MML and MACo are pushing for dedicated seats on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities.