Efforts to Increase Waterway Improvement Fund Derailed

Legislation introduced to generate revenue for the Waterway Improvement Fund was recently voted unfavorable in the House Environmental Matters Committee. Although, legislators indicate they will continue trying to create a dedicated revenue source for the fund. From coverage from MyEasternShoreMD.com:

The original legislation was introduced by Del. Steve Hershey, R-36-Queen Anne’s as HB 1210 after a study determined the fund could no longer meet the demands of the state’s boating industry. The bill would have required the collection of the fuel tax from on-water fueling stations to go to the Waterway Improvement Fund rather than the state’s general Transportation Trust Fund as is now the case.

The Waterway Improvement Fund, which is administered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), provides financial support for local governments, federal agencies, and DNR for capital projects and services for the boating public. According to DNR, the fund has not been able to keep up with project demand.

Once the bill was voted unfavorable, efforts were made to amend the transportation infrastructure bill to provide funds for this purpose.

Hershey then teamed with Del. John Olszewski, D-6-Baltimore County, to present the revenue source proposal as a floor amendment during debate on the gasoline tax.

“This provides the boaters a means to pay for themselves through the gas tax already collected at on-water fueling stations, much like Maryland’s drivers finance transportation projects through the Transportation Trust Fund,” Hershey said during floor debate on the amendment.

Update:  Since this article was posted the Senate has taken action on a similar issue.  SB 90, which as introduced would would have limited the amount of the vessel excise tax to no more than $10,000 for any vessel purchased, has been amended to provide motor fuel tax revenues to the Waterway Improvement Fund.  The bill is scheduled to pass the Senate on third reader on March 29.