Funding Maryland Enforcement Capacity
In 2017, CLA provided written and oral informational testimony to the Maryland Legislative Budget Committee concerning how water quality enforcement has been impacted over the past three years by the decline in enforcement capacity at Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). CLA drafted an educational document that was attached to the MCAC letter and sent to the Maryland General Assembly Senate and House budget committees. The document addressed how federal cuts to EPA’s budget will impact state enforcement and how MDE and Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) have been understaffed for enforcement positions the past several years. As a result, legislators provided funding to hire more environmental inspectors, aiming to reverse a long-term decline in enforcement and compliance staffing.
CLA worked with these groups again in 2018 to raise the issue of funding for MDE and MDA inspection positions with key Maryland legislators. MDE and MDA failed to use set-aside funds provided by the legislature in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget to hire new enforcement inspectors. CLA and CPR reached out to legislative members that championed this issue last year to express current concerns. CLA attended the MDE budget hearing in February 2018 and worked with partner organizations to advocate for the same budget set-aside and companion reporting to be included in the FY2018 budget. The set-aside funding amendment was included in the budget again this year, with $400,000 set aside for inspection positions at MDE and MDA. CLA is working with its partners to devise a public campaign around this issue should the agencies fail to use the funds again this year.