Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Maryland General Assembly Candidate Endorsements

The following candidates for seats in the Maryland General Assembly were endorsed by vote of the Maryland Horse Council Board of Directors at its Quarterly Meeting on August 26th in New Market, Maryland.

This is the first time in MHC history that we have endorsed candidates for office. The endorsement decisions were based on the candidates proven track record of support for MHC and our issues and concerns, including support for: equestrian training and competition facilities and equestrian sports; farmland preservation; the Thoroughbred industry, breeders and racing; our opposition to Sunday hunting; and attendance at MHC events.

Senator Thomas V. (Mike) Miller - Senate

Delegate Michael (Mike) Busch - House

Senator Thomas (Mac) Middleton - Senate

Delegate Maggie Macintosh - House

Delegate Sheila Hixson - House

Senator Joan Carter Conway - Senate

Senator Roy Dyson - Senate

Delegate Susan Aumann - House

Delegate Guy Guzzone - House

Senator J.B. Jennings - Senate

Delegate Stephen Lafferty House

Delegate Eric Luedtke House

Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith House

Delegate David Rudolph House

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MHC joins other recreational groups in Petition to Intervene in PEPCO/Exelon Merger Case

MHC has joined Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, Inc., Trail Riders of Today, Inc., Potomac Bridle and Hiking Trail Association, Inc., Equestrian Partners in Conservation, Inc.; Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Inc., Montgomery County Road Runners Association, Inc., The American Hiking Society and the International Mountain Bicycling Association, Inc. in a Petition to Intervene in the PEPCO/Exelon merger proceeding currently before the Maryland Public Service Commission. (PSC case # 9361) The purpose of the intervention by these outdoor user groups to to seek to have Exelon, should the merger be approved, grant more public access to its rights of way for recreational use.

Monday, September 15, 2014

DNR changes implementation of Sunday hunting in four western counties

After initially requesting emergency implementation of a regulation expanding Sunday hunting in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties, DNR has now said that it will instead pursue the normal process for implementing new regulations. This means that Marylanders will now have the opportunity to read and comment on the regulations before they go into effect. We will watch for the publication of the proposed regulations in the Maryland Register, and will post that information here, along with the deadline for submitting comments.

Here is a link to DNR's letter to licensed hunters, notifying them of their recent action.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Candidate Responses to MHC's Questionnaire

The Maryland Horse Council submitted a questionnaire to all candidates for statewide office, seeking statements on a number of issues important to horse people. We received over 25 responses. HERE is a link to where you can read those responses.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Farm Bureau and Horse Council Urge Safe Hunting and Riding Practices

September 2, 2014

For Immediate Release
Contact: Matt Teffeau or Jane Seigler
410-922-3426 301-502-8929

Farm Bureau and Horse Council Urge Safe Hunting and Riding Practices

The White Tail Deer hunting season will soon be underway. Maryland Farm Bureau and Maryland Horse Council leaders encourage their members and the public to be conscious of their surroundings and respectful of others during this traditional and recreational season.

Landowners, sportsmen, equestrians, farmers, and others commonly spend more time outdoors during this time of year. Respecting landowners private property rights and preventing trespassing while hunting or riding will avoid possible negative interaction among participants.

Maryland farmers continue to face a growing problem of crop damage inflicted by wildlife, especially deer, said Maryland Farm Bureau President Chuck Fry. We encourage Maryland sportsmen to take full advantage of this years hunting season.  We also encourage the community to respect the rights of landowners and be considerate of other outdoor recreation while hunting.

Maryland Horse Council President, Jane Seigler, said:

Maryland horse farmers, like all Maryland farmers, struggle with the effects of deer damage on our farms. We applaud all truly effective methods to control the deer population. We encourage all Maryland equestrians to:

       Be informed - learn the dates and details of the hunting seasons in the areas where you ride, so equestrians and hunters can avoid interfering with each other;

       Stay in touch with the landowners where you ride, to find out if permission has been given to hunters so you can avoid interference, and so you can be the landowners eyes and ears for unauthorized use;

       NEVER ride on land unless you have the owners permission, and ALWAYS stay off planted cropland.

Maryland sportsmen and equestrians have many common interests and continue to be good stewards on the land. We encourage all outdoor groups to respect private property and to always practice safe measures during hunting seasons, Fry said.

The mission of the Maryland Farm Bureau is to promote and protect Maryland agriculture and rural life. MFB is a private, non-profit membership organization that is financed by voluntary membership dues. Its strength comes from the active participation of over 37,000 member families that belong to the states 23 county Farm Bureaus.

Established in 1985, the Maryland Horse Council seeks to unify, inform, and represent Marylands diverse equestrian community. As a volunteer-based, non-profit, membership organization, financed by membership dues, donations and sponsorships, the Horse Council represents and serves over 28,000 people with 81,000 horses on 16,040 properties that comprise 587,000 acres of Maryland farmland. (2010 Maryland Horse Census)


Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Maryland Horse Council is grateful to Senators David Brinkley and Norman Stone ...

The Maryland Horse Council is grateful to Senators David Brinkley and Norman Stone, members of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review of the Maryland General Assembly, for their prompt and positive response to MHC’s plea that they request a hearing on “emergency” regulations proposed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to implement hunting in 4 western counties. By law, a hearing must be scheduled if a member of the Committee requests it. We await the scheduling of the hearing. As our letter to the Committee demonstrates, DNR’s actions in its attempt to promulgate new regulations without giving Marylanders notice of their content and an opportunity to comment on them is an affront to due process and a violation of established law.

Senator Brinkley stands up for “Due Process”


Senator Brinkley stands up for “Due Process”

The Equiery applauds Senator David Brinkley for standing up for our constitutional right to due process of law by requesting a hearing for DLS Control No. 14-217 Submission of COMAR as “Emergency Regulation.”
The Equiery likewise applauds the Maryland Horse Council for alerting the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review (AELR) and for alerting Senator Brinkley (as well as other members of the committee) to this potential circumvention of due process. It is too easy in today’s society to become complacent about the government and about the regulatory process. Too easy to shrug one’s shoulders and say, “Well, that’s just the way they do things.” To paraphrase Edmund Burke, who looked with jaundiced eye upon bureaucracy, tyranny will prevail when good people stand by and do nothing.
In mid-June of this year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife & Heritage Services (DNR WHS) released the 2014-2015 Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland with regulations included that had not yet been approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review (AELR), as is required by law.
DNR WHS eventually did submit these regulations to the AELR, but not until July 29, more than a full month after releasing the guide, and more than two months after the passage of Maryland’s law enabling, but not mandating, expanded hunting in Maryland’s four western counties.
There was plenty of time for the regulation request to be submitted via the regular process. DNR has already argued that there was not enough time to submit the request via the regular process, because of the new law signed by Governor O’Malley in May increasing the opportunities for expanded hunting in Western Maryland on private and public land. However, DNR submitted many other requests for updated regulations based on laws signed by the governor in May via the standard process prior to submitting this particularly controversial regulation as an emergency–and doing so more or less in secret.
Suffice it to say that, by submitting the request as an emergency, it is clear that bureaucrats at DNR were hoping the maneuver would stay off the radar of the general public, bypassing the public’s legal right to comment.
But adding a few days of hunting in no way, either legally or ethically, constitutes a regulatory “emergency,” which is intended to cope with public health crises and other true public emergencies. It is clear that bureaucrats at DNR were using the emergency process as a cynical way to bypass public comment.
Consequently, no one had an opportunity to comment. Bow hunters were denied their right to comment (and bow hunters are conspicuously excluded from the regulation’s expansion of Sunday hunting, although they were included in the new law). Perhaps bow hunters would like an opportunity to comment on the proposed regs. Other users of public land were excluded from commenting, including–but not limited to–hikers, bird watchers, and equestrians. (For the record,The Equiery is supportive of game hunting, including the hunting of deer with firearms, and is supportive of certain expanded opportunities for deer hunting with firearms. The Equiery also believes in the shared use of public lands; however, we believe that not all uses are simultaneously compatible, so in certain situations, “shared use” means allocating different days – or different periods within certain days – for different pursuits.)
There are more arcane details that support the necessity of the request by Senator Brinkley for a hearing, details that could possibly be used to distract interested parties from the core issue. However, we trust that Senator Brinkley will not allow these red herrings to distract him from ensuring that the O’Malley administration follows due process as required by law.