In a session where major issues of gun control, school safety and funding, climate change and medical coverage captured the headlines, the General Assembly took time to protect Maryland’s history and sacred burial sites. The effort required 2 bold sponsors, a core group of resolute advocates, 5 House and Senate committees, and hundreds of emails and phone calls to pass the first burial sites legislation since the 1990s. Governor Larry Hogan signed HB877 and SB1242 on May 8, and the laws went into effect a month later.
While half of the changes proposed by the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites and allies did not survive in committees, the Coalition is happy to report that starting on June 1, 2018, descendants and caretakers gained easier access, owners are now required to consult with the Maryland Historical Trust about conservation treatment, and Maryland counties and towns are authorized to provide a property tax credit related to burial sites.
Appreciation goes to bill sponsors Delegate Tony Knotts of Prince George’s County and Senator Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City, to the Maryland Association of Counties, David Zinner, Funeral Consumers Alliance, The War of 1812 Society in Maryland, and to all Marylanders who urged legislators to improve state law for the benefit of abandoned and neglected cemeteries.
The precise new wording in sections of the Annotated Code of Maryland can be found on www.cpmbs.org