Maryland Senator Richard Madaleno: My Funny Valentine
By Rich Bindell
Since today is Valentine’s Day—a day reserved for those we adore, we’d like to tell you all about what Senator Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery) is doing for the people of Maryland right now that has us swooning.
Last week, after introducing the Poultry Fair Share Act in the Maryland Senate and House respectively, it became pretty clear to Madaleno and Maryland Del. Shane Robinson that many who roam the State House halls were not happy with the bill. Last week we learned that Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley told a crowd at a Taste of Maryland event that he would veto it if I make it through the legislature.
Many Maryland lawmakers oppose the bill, falsely asserting that the state’s agriculture industry is the number one industry driving economic development and that the bill would destroy agriculture in the state. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Agriculture is not the number one industry driving Maryland’s economy. (You can look it up right here at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development’s own website.) And far from destroying agriculture, PFSA simply makes some of the largest polluters of the Bay—the wealthy poultry companies—pay their fair share towards Bay restoration.
Even though Maryland’s agriculture is not the economic engine of the state as the bill’s opponents wrongly claim, it is a vital industry. Food & Water Watch knows that a diversified and sustainable agricultural system on the Eastern Shore would be better for everyone, both economically and environmentally. We also know that we’re better off not consuming chickens that come from the factory farm operations that now dominate the state’s landscape. So maybe its time to base public policy in Maryland on a rational discussion of how to protect the Bay and what a sustainable food system in Maryland would look like, rather than just rehashing the same old debate where a big industry threatens to leave if they don’t get their way.
The chicken industry and its political allies, including Governor O’Malley, have launched an all out assault on the bill. O’Malley’s veto threat was timed to force sponsors of the bill to pull it before any public hearing could be held in the legislature. But right now, this chivalrous PFSA sponsor is refusing to quit. Even when the state is telling him no, Madaleno is fighting for a chance to force lawmakers to bring this issue to the table for a discussion.
For this reason, let this blog serve as a testament to our adoration of Sen. Richard Madaleno for fighting the good fight. Sen. Madaleno, this funny valentine’s for you!