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Empty chairs on Lawyer’s Mall

100 CHAIRS.jpg
Empty chairs on Lawyer's Mall/Joel McCord WYPR

As lawmakers made their way across Lawyer’s Mall Wednesday for the opening session of the 2022 General Assembly, they passed 100 empty chairs. It was a display by those pushing for climate legislation.

Mike Tidwell, executive director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, says the chairs represent the number of people who die every six hours from the effects of climate change.

“We're trying to show that this is a serious matter, it affects real people,” he said. “And we're asking the Maryland General Assembly to take this issue seriously to recognize it as life and death, that the number of lives lost are only going to increase as scientists say climate change gets worse.”

The bills, which are still being drafted, would set a long term goal of making Maryland carbon neutral by 2045 and an interim goal of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2030. Current law calls for a 40% reduction by that date.

They also would require the state to convert to an all electric vehicle fleet and require new buildings to be all electric.

Similar bills failed last year despite having broad support because of conflicts between the House and Senate versions that couldn’t be worked out. Sen. Paul Pinsky, chair of his chamber’s environment committee, says he’s confident they’ll pass this time.

“You know, we started discussions, just to try to see if we're on the same page on the policy components,” he said. “I just am confident everybody on both sides wants to see a bill passed.”

Del. Kumar Barve, chair of the House’s environment committee, says they want to pass the bills early in this session in case of a gubernatorial veto.

“The reason for that is as it's the fourth year of a four year term, if a bill is vetoed by the governor after we adjourn, we will not have any constitutional ability to override a veto,” he said “So we're going to put it on the governor's desk in with enough time for us to override a veto if he chooses to do that.”

Hogan has not weighed in on those bills.