Maryland governor signs environmental laws

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Republican Gov. Larry Hogan took a bipartisan ride with state Democratic leaders in an electric car Thursday to a waterside bill-signing ceremony for environmental initiatives.

Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch smiled and posed for photographs before they stepped into an electric blue Hyundai. Hogan took the front passenger seat and a state trooper took the wheel.

"We've got bills that we've worked together, with both sides of the aisle, to protect the air, to protect the water and protect the soil, and we're going to continue to do it," Hogan said at the Annapolis City Dock, not far from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

Here's a look at some of the legislation:

ELECTRIC CARS

Maryland will increase investment in the Electric Vehicle Tax Credit program by more than 30 percent. The Charging Station Tax Rebate will be doubled, to a maximum of $4,000, and the electric car tax credit program will allow deductions for $100 per kWH of battery life per vehicle, up to the same maximum tax credit of $3,000.

CLEAN WATER COMMERCE

The state will allow up to $10 million each year of the Bay Restoration Fund to be used to pay for pollution reductions Maryland will use to meet the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Improvement Plan by 2025.

MARYLAND ENERGY INNOVATION INSTITUTE

A new institute at the University of Maryland will collaborate to develop and attract private investment and commercialize clean energy innovations.

HEALTHY SOILS

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will provide farmers with research, education, technical assistance and potential financial assistance to improve soil health on Maryland farms.

COWNOSE RAYS

A moratorium will be put in place on killing cownose rays in contests through July 1, 2019. The measure requires the Department of Natural Resources to prepare a fisheries management plan for the rays by Dec. 31, 2018.

OFFSHORE WIND

Hogan declined to taking a position on a decision the Maryland Public Service Commission is expected to make this month on two offshore wind proposals near Ocean City. The PSC could enable Maryland to host the nation's largest offshore windfarm.

"The law was passed a while ago," Hogan told reporters after the ceremony, referring to the 2013 Maryland law creating a regulatory framework for offshore wind. "It's finally come to fruition, but that's a decision that the independent body — the PSC — has to make, and we're following it very closely but don't have any role in the process."

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