Stormwater Legislation Takes Sharp Turn In Senate

HB 508, a bill to clarify the effect of the state-mandated stormwater management fee (in effect across ten counties), has been heavily amended in a Senate committee, causing stakeholders to reassess their interest in the legislation.

As passed by the House, HB 508 specified circumstances where state-owned properties would become subject to the locally adopted fees. From MACo’s testimony from the April 2 Senate hearing on the bill:

MACo believes that the amendments create a fair system that requires the State to either perform its own stormwater mitigation or reimburse a county for the mitigation the county must perform on the State’s behalf and would also increase the likelihood that federal property not subject to an NPDES permit would have to pay the fee or conduct its own stormwater mitigation activities.

However, during a voting session yesterday in the Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs, the bill was heavily amended to create a sharply different focus. The contents of the bill passed by the House were stripped, and the bill has been amended to place a hard cap on the fee’s effect on non-profit organizations (a topic not included in the House-passed version at all), and to simply study the fee application to governmental facilities. The Committee’s amendments are not yet publicly available.

The bill has a secondary assignment to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, which must act on the bill prior to it advancing to the floor of the Senate.

MACo, the directly affected counties, and a range of stakeholder groups are now concerned that the Senate-amended version of the bill would undermine, rather than promote, locally funded solutions to looming stormwater retrofit and watershed project costs.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties