Frederick News-Post Editorial Favors Repeal or Modification of Stormwater Fee Legislation

The Frederick News-Post editorial board expressed support for repealing or modifying the 2012 legislation that required 10 counties to adopt a stormwater remediation fee (known as the “rain tax” by the fee’s opponents) in a December 8 editorial but also noted that the underlying stormwater treatment requirements imposed by the federal Clean Water Act must still be addressed.  From the editorial:

Hogan, as you will have seen on our front page Friday, made scrapping the [rain] tax one of his first orders of business, which is positive news.  …

Of course, the “rain tax” title is a complete misnomer. Maryland doesn’t tax the rain — it does, however, require the state’s 10 most built-up jurisdictions to implement a fee on businesses and residents for water that runs off impervious surfaces, like roofs and driveways, washing copious amounts of watershed-life-robbing nitrogen and phosphorous into the bay.  …

What complicates matters is that the Legislature was reacting to federal Clean Water Act mandates to curb bay pollution implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency. Those mandates have not changed, and neither has the cost to the county.

 As previously reported on Conduit Street, while Governor-Elect Larry Hogan plans to introduce legislation repealing the fee, Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller has stated he favors amending the 2012 legislation so that affected counties may either impose a fee or show they have an alternative funding source (such as from general funds) to meet the federal requirements.  The editorial also discussed Miller’s proposal and concluded in support local flexibility:

We can all agree that pollution in the bay is pressing and needs to be addressed. But, bottom line: The state won’t meet its pollution reduction goals by continuing a confrontational relationship with its jurisdictions.