ANNAPOLIS—About 160 students from student council programs in Anne Arundel County are expected to lobby their elected state representatives in Annapolis Wednesday, Feb. 1 in support of bills to increase the Bay Restoration Fund, and to restrict new septic systems and sprawl development, among other legislation.
This is the first time Anne Arundel students participating in the annual Lobby Day decided to support environmental legislation, said Aimee Poisson, Administrator for Student Leadership Development in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Students typically have lobbied each year on student-related issues. And while those issues are on the students’ agenda again this year, for the first time they also will lobby for “meaty” environmental bills, the advisor said. Well informed about the Bay’s ecological troubles through hands-on learning experiences, students wanted to have a more direct impact on legislation. “They are more interested in how they can do something. What can I as a 16 year old do?” Poisson said. In addition, said Poisson, the direct lobbying experience coupled with educational sessions will provide the kids with a “greater understanding of the relationship between environmental activism and legislative action.”
The students, members of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils, are representatives of nearly every student government group in the county. The Maryland Association of Student Councils chose CBF as its Charity of the Year in 2011, and the two
organizations have been working together since. Looking to do more for the Chesapeake Bay, the students focused on the bills after seeking information from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).
CBF and the Clean Water, Healthy Families Coalition are urging lawmakers to increase the Bay Restoration Fund, also known as the “flush tax,” sufficiently to upgrade sewage plants, septic systems and stormwater systems. If an increase is not adequate, legislators should also require local governments to collect stormwater utility fees. The coalition also urges lawmakers to pass a strong bill to restrict the proliferation of 100-year-old septic technology in new subdivisions in rural areas, and to steer new growth to rural towns rather than farm fields.
Students will lobby their representatives in staggered groups between 11 a.m and 2 p.m. During that same time groups also will meet with CBF scientists at Key Auditorium, St. John’s College. From 2-4 pm students will hold their own assembly in Key Auditorium.
Bills on the students’ lobby agenda include:
- SB 236 (support) Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012
- SB 240(support) Environment - Bay Restoration Fund - Fees
- SB 72 (support)Medical Treatment - Youth - Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants
- SB 110 (oppose) Motor Vehicle Administration - Young Driver Improvement Program - Parent and Guardian Attendance
- HB191 (oppose) State Board of Education - Financial Literacy Curriculum - Graduation Requirement