Items filtered by date: February 2019

-Webinar will feature industry observations of changing landscape tax landscape-
The American Horse Council (AHC) will conduct its second quarter webinar for 2019 and examine how equine businesses are adapting to the new tax law passed at the end of 2017.  Having just completed the first filing season whereby most taxpayers are subject to the new law, it will be interesting to learn insights about some of the more noticeable tax law impacts on the industry.  The webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 15, at 3:00 PM ET.
Equine tax law expert Jennifer Shah is Director of Tax Services for Dean Dorton Allen Ford in Lexington, KY, and currently leads the firm’s equine practice.  Ms. Shah has over 20 years of tax planning and compliance experience with federal, international, and multistate tax and operational matters for both individuals and businesses.  She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts, Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants, and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.  Ms. Shah also serves on the advisory board of the American Horse Council’s Tax Bulletin, and a member of the Equine Financial Group.  She is a frequent speaker on equine tax and operational matters to a variety of industry participants.
AHC’s Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Bryan Brendle, will deliver on overview of the major changes to the tax law that reflect the industry’s priorities during the advocacy phase that laid the groundwork for the new law.  Ms. Shah will focus on the “real world” implementation of some of these issues, including considerations to maximize small business tax breaks, evaluation of impacts on businesses classified as “C corporations,” and how to maximize use of the 100 percent bonus depreciation measure.  
The webinar is open to both AHC members and non-members—we encourage everyone to attend! The webinar lasts approximately one hour, and will allow for Q&A at the end of each speaker’s presentation. To register for the webinar, please contact Bryan Brendle at We look forward to having you join us on May 15.
Published in Legislative
Updated: March 8th 

The Maryland Horse Council was founded in 1985 specifically to unify, inform, and represent Maryland’s diverse horse community to state legislators and regulators.

Over the years, MHC has had numerous lobbying successes, such as enacting state law that recognizes equine facilities and equine activities as part of “agriculture;” advancing legislation that created the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB), our commodity board within the Department of Agriculture for the purpose of promoting the horse industry; and preserving fair use of shared resources by limiting or prohibiting deer hunting with firearms on Sundays. We have weighed in on numerous pieces of proposed legislation involving environmental regulation, civil liability for horse related injuries and dog bites, funding for land preservation programs, etc.

The 2019 Maryland General Assembly convened on January 9 and will adjourn on April 8th. The intervening 90 days are a romp through the bill making process. As of February 19, over 2,000 bills have been submitted to either the House, Senate or both (when filed in both chambers, a bill is referred to as “cross-filed” and often done to increase its chances of passing). The last day to submit a bill without going through complicated hoops is March 4.

Up until now, things are comparatively “sleepy,” as committees hold hearings and debate bills, with a few of them being voted. If passed, the bill “crosses over” to the other chamber for more hearings and debates. But with “Cross Over Day” looming on the horizon, things are about to hectic. “Cross Over Day” is the last day upon which a bill can pass in its original chamber (be it Senate or House) and “cross over” to the other chamber for consideration (again, there are complicated exceptions to this rule that are rarely used but can happen).

From March 18th, things get fast and furious. The first week of April, “down the stretch they come” with bills crossing under the wire of “Sine Die,” the day of adjournment, April 8. If a bill is not passed and ratified by both chambers by Sine Die, it is dead. Game over. Do not pass go. Dead bills are dead. They don’t come back to life. To be considered in next year’s session, they must be filed anew once the new session begins.

Your MHC legislative committee meets weekly during session to review the thousands of bills filed, searching for those particular bills we believe will have the most impact on the equestrian community. The committee then decides how to apply MHC’s standing positions on the particular nuances of those bills. Below is a sampling of those bills and topics upon which the committee is active; cross filed bills include both their House & Senate numbers. To check the ever evolving status of a bill, to read the actual wording of the bill, or to find out other information such as hearings or sponsors, either click on the bill link or visit and enter the bill number in the “Find Legislation” search bar.

Meanwhile, if you have an issue or concern that involves state law or regulation, please let us know about it! You may reach the Maryland Horse Council Executive Director, Carrie Hull, at 844-MDHORSE (844-634-6773).


Animal Welfare

HB 131: Criminal Law and Procedure - Animal Abuse Registry

Requiring the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to establish a public Maryland Animal Abuse Registry. Requiring anyone convicted of animal abuse crimes to register with a certain county sheriff each year for 15 years. Requiring the county sheriff to take a digital picture of the registrant’s head, shoulders, and face. Prohibiting a breeder or a retail employee from selling to anyone on the register, rescues and shelters are exempt.

MHC: Bill died in Committee.

HB 135/SB 152: Criminal Law – Cruelty to Animals – Seizure and Removal

Authorizing an impounding agency to remove a certain animal under certain circumstances and provide notice and provides mechanisms for coverage of the cost of care of animals seized. Requiring transferring ownership of an abused animal when the owner is convicted.

MHC:  Senate committee amended SB 152 to delete most of the proposed changes and just empower judges to order restitution after conviction. The amended bill passed the full Senate and crossed to House.

HB 239: Criminal Procedure – Maryland Animal Abuse Registry

Requiring those convicted of animal abuse to register with the county sheriff and requiring those convicted of animal abuse to participate in counseling.

MHC: Bill died in Committee.

HB 1205 Primary and Secondary Education – Animal Welfare – Instruction, Living Space, and Penalty

Requiring public schools and private schools which accept public funds to provide instruction on the humane treatment and protection of companion, domestic, and wild animals. Requiring schools that keep animals on the premises to provide an appropriate living space for the animal. Prohibiting an individual from feeding a live animal to another animal in the presence of students. Imposing criminal penalties for violation.

MHC:  Bill died in Committee.


Ag Tourism

HB 518/SB 446 Public Safety - Agritourism - Permit Exemption

Adding Baltimore County to the list of counties that exempt existing agricultural buildings engaged in agritourism from a change of occupancy permit.

MHC: Written testimony in support. 

HB HB639/SB99 Anne Arundel County – Public Safety – Buildings Used for Agritourism

Adding Anne Arundel County to the list of counties that exempt existing agricultural buildings engaged in agritourism from a change of occupancy permit.

MHC: Written testimony in support. Senate bill passed and crossed to House.


Fair Use of Shared Resources

Below is a summary of hunting related bills that MHC is either monitoring or upon which is active in giving written and oral testimony to preserve equestrian and other user groups access to shared natural resources, while simultaneously supporting controlled increased deer harvests via crop damage permits and other methods that don’t limit user access to shared resources.

HB 199 Wicomico County – Deer Hunting -- Sundays

Permitting deer hunting on private property on the first Sunday of bow hunting season in November and each Sunday in the deer firearms season.

MHC: MHC written and oral testimony, supporting if amended to provide that hunting ceases at 10:30 am.

HB 242 Cecil County - Natural Resources - Hunting

Authorizing Sunday hunting of game bird or mammal, except migratory game birds, wetland game birds, or quail, on a Sunday on certain land during the open season for that game bird or mammal. Changing the safety zone for archery hunting to 50 yards, Repealing the prohibition against a person using, selling, possessing, setting, placing, or maintaining a snare trap.

MHC: MHC written and oral testimony, opposing unless amended to provide that hunting ceases at 10:30 am.

HB 619 Dorchester County – Sunday Hunting – Deer Muzzleloader Season

Permitting Sunday deer hunting during muzzleloader season on both private and public property.

MHC: MHC written and oral testimony, opposing unless amended to provide that hunting ceases at 10:30 am.

HB 620  Dorchester County --- Sunday Hunting – Deer Firearms Season

Permitting Sunday deer hunting on the second and third Sunday of firearms season on both private and public property.

MHC: MHC written and oral testimony, opposing unless amended to provide that hunting ceases at 10:30 am.

HB 1221 Natural Resources – Hunting -- Sundays

Permitting Sunday hunting for game birds and mammals on public or private property. Authorizing Sunday deer hunting until 10:30 for three Sundays in firearms season, two Sundays in muzzleloader season, and all Sundays in deer bow hunting season. Authorizing Sunday deer hunting in a county for a full day on certain Sundays in certain deer seasons.

MHC: Opposing with written and oral testimony.

SB 293 Natural Resources – Sunday Hunting – Migratory Game Birds

Authorizing migratory game bird hunting on Sundays during the open season on private property and public property that is designated by the State.

MHC: Opposing with written and oral testimony. Bill died in Committee.

SB 390 Natural Resources – Sunday Hunting – Deer

Authorizing Sunday deer hunting in all counties in which Sunday hunting is not currently permitted.

MHC: Opposing with written and oral testimony.


Farm Related – General

HB 331/SB 133 Farm Area Motor Vehicles – Registration and Authorized Use

Repealing the 5-year sunset provision for the statute that authorizes farm vehicles licenses for people with existing Maryland drivers licenses and that later provision that increased from 10 miles to 25 miles the radius from a farm within which a person may operate a farm area vehicle on a highway.

MHC: MHC supporting testimony sent. Both bills have passed their chamber of origin and crossed over.

HB 904/SB 546 Agriculture – Nutrient Management – Monitoring and Enforcement

Requiring a person who holds a certain certificate or license to meet the reporting requirements and deadlines of the Phosphorus Management Tool and the submission of certain soil test phosphorus levels. Increasing certain fines. Requiring MDA to establish a voluntary certification program for certain commercial manure haulers and brokers. Requiring a person to hold a certain discharge permit before the person may begin construction on any part of a new CAFO.

MHC: Monitoring

SB 756 Community Development - Rural Maryland Opportunity Zone Fund

Establishing the Rural Maryland Opportunity Zone Fund to encourage investment in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.

MHC: Monitoring


Land Preservation & Open Space

HB 20/SB 344 State Agricultural Land Transfer Tax -- Nonagricultural Use Exemptions -- Repeal

HB 20 & SB 344Repealing the existing exemption from the State agricultural land transfer tax for instruments of writing (i.e., wills) that convey property that has paid property tax for the five consecutive taxable years before the transfer. 

MHC: Monitoring

HB 935 Agricultural Land Preservation Easements - Use of Land - Signs Forbidding Trespassing, Hunting, or the Destruction of Property

Requiring no trespassing/no hunting signs on agricultural easements to be at least 500 feet apart.

MHC: Monitoring

HB 1008 Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation – Valuation of Easement

Authorizing MALF to use fair market value for easements for up to 2 years after MALF was first asked to buy the easement.

MHC: Monitoring

SB 25 Real Property Conservation Easements, Covenants, Restrictions, and Conditions -- Recording Notice

Allows MALPF, MHT, MET, or DNR to enter a notice of an easement in the land records under the name of the current landowner, to ensure that the existence of the easement appears in any future title search.  MDA had found that current title search practices do not always find easements if the easement was recorded more than 3-5 years ago.  Limited title searches can result in a buyer not being aware of a conservation easement held by MALPF, MHT, MET, or DNR, and that the buyer might then violate the terms of the easement.   

MHC: Monitoring. Bill status as of press: passed and crossed to House.

SB 57 Agriculture – County Agricultural Land Preservation Programs

Requires counties to spend within 6 years any funds in their agricultural preservation accounts that were generated by the termination of an agricultural easement. Requires counties applying to MALF for a re/certification to include a “priority preservation area element” in its comprehensive plan. Authorizes MALF and Md. Dept. of Planning to review county comprehensive zoning changes.

MHC: Monitoring. Bill status as of press: passed and crossed to House.

SB 58 MALF – Elimination of District Agreements

Technical amendments to delete obsolete references to agricultural districts and to re-codifying in light of same.

MHC: Monitoring. Bill status as of press: passed and crossed to House.



HB 398/SB 354 Vehicle Laws – Overtaking and Passing Bicycles

Authorizing the driver of a vehicle to cross a double-yellow line in order to pass a bicycle “to make the minimum adjustment necessary to overtake and pass at a safe distance a bicycle traveling in the same direction.” Because of their inability to either stop or maneuver quickly, horse trailers and vans are in a particularly dangerous position if oncoming traffic has crossed the double yellow line.

MHC: Opposing with written testimony. House bill passed house; Senate bill died in Committee.

HB 401 Harford County – Hunting – Deer Management Permits

Adding Harford County to the list of counties in which an owner (farmers) of a Deer Management Permit (aka “crop damage permit”) can hunt deer with a shotgun or a breech loading center fired rifle all year and all deer and in all seasons on private or State land.

MHC: MHC monitoring. Passed House.

HB 660/SB 557 Public Health – Tick-Borne Disease Interagency Workgroup

Establishing the Tick-Borne Disease Interagency Workgroup. Requiring the Workgroup to solicit input from certain stakeholders and make recommendations. Requiring the Workgroup to submit an interim and a final report to certain committees.

MHC: Supporting with amendment to include representative of the large animal veterinarian community. Both bills died in Committee.

SB 105 Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program – Therapy Horses

Adds trained therapy horses to the Veterans Service Animal Program so that eligible animals include both trained therapy horses and trained service dogs.

MHC: Supporting with written testimony. Bill status as of press: passed and crossed to House.


Racing Related & Sports Wagering

As of press, MHC is monitoring all racing-related bills and will not take a position unless requested to do so by unanimous agreement of MHC racing-related association members.

HB 80/SB 132 Horse Racing at Fair Hill - Union Hospital Allocation - Repeal

Repealing a requirement that the Cecil County Breeders' Fair, Inc., or its successor allocate the profits earned from horse racing at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area to the Union Hospital of Cecil County; etc.

MHC: Supporting with written testimony. Senate bill passed and crossed to House.

HB 739/SB 480 Expansion of Commercial Gaming – Referendum – Sports Wagering

Authorizing sports wagering licenses for thoroughbred racing or harness racing. Declaring intent for sports wagering revenue to go to public education.

HB 963 Expansion of Commercial Gaming – Referendum – Sports Wagering

Authorizing sports wagering licenses for thoroughbred mile racing or harness racing (compare with HB 739). Declaring intent for sports wagering revenue to go to public education.

HB 990/SB 883 Video Lottery Terminal Proceeds - Racetrack Facility Renewal Account - Use of Funds

Adding Bowie to the list of facilities that can received funds from the Racetrack Facility Renewal Account. Authorizing the owners of Bowie or a racing licensee to request public bond funding for improvements at Bowie or Laurel, provided State Racing Commission Setting agrees, and provided requesting party meets a 50 % match.

HB 1070/SB 878 Video Lottery Terminals - Racetrack Facility Renewal Account - Allocation of Funds

Adding Bowie Race Course Training Center to the list of thoroughbred racing facilities eligible to receive the funds.

HB 1190/SB 800 Maryland Stadium Authority’s Pimlico Race Course Study Workgroup

Establishing the Workgroup to Study the Implementation of Phase 2 of the Maryland Stadium Authority's Pimlico Race Course Study.  Requiring the Workgroup to make recommendations regarding financing options for the implementation of Phase 2 of the Maryland Stadium Authority's Pimlico Race Course Study.


2019 Legislative Committee Chair - Jane Seigler

Committee Members

Kim Egan Rutter, Christy Clagett, Royce Herman, Crystal Pickett, Jennifer Sponseller-Webster, Neil Agate,

Joe Michael, Jacquie Cowan, Joanne Stone, Gale Monahan


Published in Legislative