ANNAPOLIS – Activists from across Maryland gathered at the State House Friday to rally in support of environmental legislation that would amend the state’s constitution to declare a healthy and sustainable environment as a fundamental right for all citizens.

The legislation adds that the state must “conserve, protect, and enhance the State’s natural resources for the benefit of every person.”

The House bill (HB596) is scheduled to be heard Wednesday afternoon by the House Environment and Transportation Committee. Companion legislation (SB783) has been introduced in the Senate.

The rally was organized by the Sierra Club, a nationwide environmental organization formed in 1892 that supports nature outings, conservation, and educating the public on climate change, plastic pollution, and collapsing biodiversity.

Among the activists were students carrying signs, chanting, and speaking out about how they feel the environment is important to maintain a healthy life.

Linda Gale, an Annapolis high school sophomore, was among them. She told Capital News Service she was enjoying the experience, despite the chilly weather.

Del. Wanika Fisher, D-Prince George’s, is the bill’s lead sponsor. Twenty-eight other delegates have signed on as co-sponsors.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, and Del. Kumar P. Barve, D-Montgomery, are spearheading a large slate of climate change legislation unrelated to Fisher’s bill that they hope to get through the General Assembly this session. Democratic lawmakers’ effort to pass an environmental bill collapsed last year when members of their party couldn’t come to a compromise.

Fisher talked to supporters about the importance of the legislation during the rally over Zoom. Other delegates, including cosponsor Del. Gabriel Acevero, D-Montgomery, spoke to the crowd in person.

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