Several bird-saving laws came into effect this fall, thanks to the letters, phone calls, and testimony of Audubon supporters like you during the spring legislative session in Annapolis. However, some key bills were stalled and unable to be passed in time. Legislative highlights include:
Intentional balloon releases
Your work banned intentional balloon releases in the state, potentially saving thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, whales, and dolphins in the coming decades. Litter from mass balloon releases often end up in our waterways and can be choking hazards to birds, turtles, and other wildlife. This legislation mirrors similar bans in nearby states like Delaware and Virginia.
Bird-friendly gardens and habitat
Your outreach to legislators passed a bill prohibiting Home Owners Associations from restricting bird-friendly gardens and habitat through prohibitions on lawn-limited plantings. This law allows homeowners to consider low-impact landscaping such as pollinator gardens and native plantings, which can curb water use, reduce pollutants, lower yard maintenance costs, and increase wildlife-friendly habitats.
As with every session, we also had disappointments. Although the bill passed in the House, the Sustainable Buildings Act was stalled in the Senate and never made it to the floor for a vote. This legislation would have required state-owned and funded buildings to ensure that their windows are designed to be "bird-safe" in order to reduce glass collisions. We fully expect that this bill will be reintroduced for the 2022 legislative session, and we will work closely with our partners to get this passed into law next year.
Plans for 2022
Audubon is looking forward to the upcoming 2022 legislative sessions and will be actively working with legislators, state officials, and our partners to stand up for policies that protect the well-being of birds, wildlife, and people in Maryland.