A Montgomery County lawmaker will try again to give archery hunters more room to help cull the county’s growing deer population.
Del. Eric Luedtke again has proposed a local bill to shrink the safety zone around Montgomery County buildings from 150 yards to 50 yards for bow hunters. Current state law prohibits shooting any firearm or deadly weapon, like a bow, within 150 yards of an occupied home, church or other building or camp. Around schools, the safety zone is 300 yards.
Under Luedtke’s proposal, Montgomery County would be lumped with Carroll and Frederick counties, which have a 50-yard safety zone.
With the exception of Harford County, which has a 100-yard buffer, the rest of the state must follow a 150-yard safety zone.
Luedtke (D-Dist. 14) of Burtonsville proposed a similar bill in the 2013 legislative session that became a point of significant debate among the delegation and did not advance.
Few solutions are effective for deer management in Montgomery, but about a dozen citizens who testified in favor of the bill at a delegation hearing Monday say giving archers more room to hunt will go a long way in controlling the deer population.
Many who testified told of complications suffered from Lyme disease, a debilitating disease carried by ticks that often feed off the blood of deer.
Others spoke of the many deer killed each year along their streets by motorists.
Kevin Kommitt of the Sycamore Acres Citizens Association told the delegation that it needs to support the bill to protect children and residents in the county.
“Odds are it [a deer-auto collision] will happen to someone in this room in the next year,” he said.
Rob Gibbs, of the Montgomery Parks Department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, acknowledged that reducing the safety zone could increase the opportunity for hunting in the county.
However, even a 50-yard safety zone would not allow hunting in the county’s more densely populated areas, he said.
Luedtke’s bill was one of 13 local bills the delegation has filed so far for the 2014 legislative session, which starts Jan. 8.
Among the crop of legislation are nine bills that seek to change alcohol regulations, including ones that would allow serving wine at beauty salons and ease restrictions on microbreweries. Others would prevent self-checkout sales of alcohol, permit beer festivals and create an annual license for small performing arts facilities that pay thousands each year for one-day licenses.
Four bills would change regulations for class B licenses, which are for beer, wine and liquor at hotels, motels, taverns or restaurants.
One bill lowers the required food-to-alcohol ratio. Currently, license holders must have no more than 50 percent of sales to alcohol. The bill would increase that to 60 percent.
One bill removes some geographic restrictions on licenses, and removes a cap on the number of duplicate licenses a holder can have.
Another removes the sunset provision for allowing to-go alcohol sales at Takoma Park restaurants.
One bill allows more licenses to be issued in Kensington.
Also proposed is a bill by Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Dist. 18) of Chevy Chase to require most Montgomery County Police to carry automated external defibrillators in their vehicles and a bill that clarifies Montgomery County’s role in tort claims.
With the exception of the archery and defibrillator bills, the legislation will be considered by the delegation’s County Affairs Committee before moving to the General Assembly. The other bills will go to the delegation’s Land Use and Transportation Committee for discussion.