Maryland Senate OKs resolution opposing federal Chesapeake Bay budget cuts

The Maryland Senate on Friday approved a resolution imploring Gov. Larry Hogan to press the Trump administration not to cut tens of millions of dollars for restoring the Chesapeake Bay. The resolution now moves to the House of Delegates for consideration.

The largely symbolic resolution carries no legal weight.


Sen. Stephen Hershey, the Senate's minority leader, called it "a political jab aimed at the governor," but the Eastern Shore Republican voted for the resolution.

Republican Sen. Bryan Simonaire also voted for the resolution.

"I don't like the politics of it," said Simonaire, who represents Anne Arundel County. "But I certainly support our bay."

President Donald J. Trump's proposed budget for next year would wipe out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program, which oversees the multi-state effort to restore the bay's health. The proposed cut is $73 million.

Hogan has met with the state's Congressional representatives about the issue, and will lobby against the proposed cut if it appears to become a reality, his office has said.

"If any of these budget proposals ever become law or even make it into actual legislation, the Governor's office will work to address them during the state budget process," Hogan's secretaries of environment and natural resources wrote in a letter to the chairwoman of the Senate's environment committee this week.

Sen. Paul Pinsky, the sponsor of the resolution, said it is a response to "bad public policy" being promoted by the president.

"We shouldn't abdicate our responsibility, nor should the second floor," Pinsky said, referencing the location of the governor's office within the State House.

Some senators questioned whether Trump's proposed cuts would ever win approval in Congress.

Sen. Steve Waugh wondered if senators would sponsor resolutions praising the Trump administration if, for example, the new FBI headquarters is awarded to Maryland or if he follows through on plans to increase defense spending, which would help Maryland.

"This is just foolishness," said Waugh, a Southern Maryland Republican, who voted against the resolution. "We are wasting our time."

The Senate voted 35-10 for the resolution, with all 10 votes against coming from Republicans.