Montgomery County leaf blower ban goes silent — for now

The bill that would have banned gas-powered leaf blowers in Montgomery County has been left to twist in the wind. But the Maryland county’s lawmakers could still reintroduce the bill after clearing the air of some lingering questions.

As the Montgomery County Council was prepared to take its final vote on the proposal, Council member Marilyn Balcombe moved to table the bill.

Balcombe told her colleagues that there were still a lot questions left up in the air about the bill, which would ban the gas-powered leaf blowers and issue rebates to people making the switch from gas to electric-powered devices.

“We don’t know how much the rebate will be,” Balcombe said. “We don’t know who is going to get these rebates, and we don’t know if they’re going to go to the people who most need them.” She also expressed concerns about the timeline of the rebate process.

The bill, sponsored by county Council member Gabe Albornoz, had been amended to provide exemptions to agricultural producers in the county’s Agricultural Reserve Zone, a swath of land that covers 93,000 acres and traces portions of the county’s western, eastern and northern borders.

“We need to make sure that we get this legislation done correctly,” Balcombe said

In calling for the vote, Council President Evan Glass said that D.C. and the towns of Chevy Chase and Somerset in Maryland had already banned gas-powered leaf blowers.

“The time has come for Montgomery County as a whole to take a similar position” Glass said.

Among those voting to table the bill: council members Will Jawando, Sidney Katz, Natali Fani-González, Albornoz, Laurie-Anne Sayles, Dawn Luedtke and Balcombe.

Voting against the measure to table are Glass and council members Andrew Friedson, Kristin Mink and Kate Stewart.

Although the bill is tabled, it is not dead; it can be brought back for consideration by one of the members who voted to table it. Then that would have to be approved by Glass.

The bill can be found here.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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