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On Friday, March 30th on the Senate floor in the State House, House Bill 964 was being voted on. House Bill 964 titled "Atlantic Coastal Bays - Dredging for Oysters and Clams - Prohibition" was passed out of the Environmental Matters Committee on March 19th by a vote of 14 to 7 and then by the entire House by a vote of 109 to 29.

On March 30th it came over to the Senate Chambers, when just a few day earlier its companion bill Senate Bill 379 was defeated by a vote of 26 to20. However, we were well prepared for this vote. Hundreds of e-mails were sent along with several hundred phone calls asking each Senator to vote in favor of the bill. The Atlantic Coast Chapter applied the most pressure along with several other chapters of the MSSA. Many other organizations and individuals were also involved in getting the votes changed.

After the role count was taken President Mike Miller announced that the bill passed by a vote of 29 to 18.

I can't say enough or thank everyone who had a hand in this fantastic turnaround. It was truly a victory for the marine environment for the Atlantic Coastal back bays.

Many thanks must go to Delegate Norman Conway and Jim Mathias for sponsoring our House Bill. They too contacted their friends in the Senate and helped get their bill through the Senate.

We must recognize the major players in this whole arena. Senator Roy Dyson from Southern Maryland was our champion in the Senate. Senator Dyson rose several times on the Senate floor during our first try with the Senate Bill 379. This bill was killed on the Senate floor by Senator Lowell Stoltzfus the first time around. It was a different situation for the House Bill. Although Senator Stoltzfus still tried to kill the bill on the floor, Senator Dyson did an outstanding job of explaining the harmful effects that is associated with hydraulic clam dredging. He also asked several Senators to change their votes for the House Bill.

Finally, we must recognize the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus for their help in getting the bill turned around.
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