Trust fund for bay cleanup moves closer to passage

The Baltimore Sun

Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts would be bolstered under legislation that received preliminary approval from the Maryland House of Delegates yesterday.

Legislators decided to move the bill that creates the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund to a final vote, which is expected today. The House and Senate approved legislation in recent days, setting aside about $50 million for the fund, and the House bill being considered would govern how that money is used. The General Assembly is meeting in a special session called by Gov. Martin O'Malley to close a projected $1.7 billion budget deficit.

Del. Maggie L. McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat and chairwoman of the Environmental Matters Committee, said the added funding for programs to reduce runoff would move Maryland closer to fulfilling commitments to improve the bay's water quality under an agreement with neighboring states and federal officials.

The Senate has not passed legislation setting up the fund, and both chambers differ on how they would pay for it. The House directs gas and car-rental taxes to the fund, while the Senate would use car-titling taxes and monies from Program Open Space, which aims to preserve forests and fields and build playgrounds in urban areas.

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