Michael A. Sawyers
The senators and delegates who converge on Annapolis each January and stay there for three months as they decide how we should live our lives would do well to subscribe to a portion of the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians.
“Do no harm.”
We are fortunate in Almost Maryland to have elected officials who, for the most part, adhere to that approach. If only the same could be said for those who have been voted into office in other parts of the Free State.
Legislative business came to an end at midnight Monday. Let’s take a look at, as Neil Young croons, the damage done.
Here is what passed.
SENATE BILL 281
This was the high-profile bill of the session. Pushed for strongly by Gov. Martin O’Malley, this law restricts gun ownership, making illegal certain semi-automatic rifles, certain clips or magazines, requiring the purchase of a license to buy a handgun, etc. Delegate Wendell Beitzel has supplied the Times-News with a detailed list of what the law will mean when it takes effect on Oct. 1. On the April 21 Outdoors page we will share that information with our readers.
A movement has begun to bring this law to a referendum vote in 2014. We will keep you abreast of that effort as well.
In a related firearms matter, on April 18, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the county’s public library on East Main Street in Frostburg, a presentation will describe how the behavior of recent mass murderers was affected by the psychotropic drugs they were taking or had taken, according to organizer Bernard Miltenberger. There will be videos and speakers.
House Bill 543
Good for Carroll County. This bill allows deer hunting on private land in that county on every Sunday from the first Sunday in October through the second Sunday in January.
I think I speak for hunters in Almost Maryland when I say, “Give us that, too.”
House Bill 365
This bill reduces in Harford County the safety zone for bowhunting from 150 yards to 100 yards from an occupied dwelling or house.
House Bill 66
Spring gobbler hunting will now be legal on public lands in Dorchester County on each Sunday during that season.
House Bill 214
Queen Anne’s County has joined a group of other counties where bowhunting for deer on private land can take place on the first Sunday in November and firearms hunting for deer on private land can take place during the two Sundays within that season.
Senate Bill 1031
It will now be illegal for hunters to shoot stray or feral domestic animals such as dogs and cats.
Here are things that didn’t pass.
There is never a great time to introduce a pro-gun bill into the Maryland General Assembly, but this was likely the worst of years to do so, considering the governor’s emphasis on anti-gun legislation.
Two House bills were killed that would have allowed bowhunters in far Western Maryland to carry handguns so as to protect themselves from bears. A third and similar bill was simply ignored.
Senate Bill 619
This bill would have increased the cost of an adult, resident hunting license from $24.50 to $37. It passed the full Senate 37-9, but stalled and died in the House Environmental Matters Committee.
This is the second year in a row that legislation aimed at increasing the cost of a hunting license has failed. A year ago, the full House voted down a bill that had passed the Senate and that would have increased the license by $15.50.
House Bill 990
This bill, introduced by Delegate Beitzel, would have required that only bucks with three antler points on one side would be legal in Garrett County.
The subject received much attention here on the Outdoors page. Beitzel withdrew the bill and expects the Wildlife & Heritage Service to study and act on the issue in an administrative fashion.
House Bill 366
This would have reduced, on a statewide basis, the archery safety zone for bowhunting from 150 to 50 yards.
Senate Bill 525
Good! This bill would have placed a $10 surcharge on the purchase of a $20.50 resident fishing license. The license had been increased from $10.50 to $20.50 in 2007. It is too soon for another increase. Bring this up again in the year 2022 or so.
Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.