Governor Hogan Introduces Stormwater Fee Repeal Legislation

A February 10 Baltimore Sun article reported that Governor Larry Hogan has introduced legislation that would repeal the 2012 legislation that required 10 Maryland counties to adopt a stormwater remediation fee (also known as the “rain tax” by the fee’s opponents).  From the article:

Hogan said his legislation would allow counties to scrap the fees if they want. Local officials should be free to decide how to pay for required programs to prevent polluted stormwater from reaching the Chesapeake Bay, he said.

“Repealing the rain tax has nothing to do with our commitment to the bay or our desire to control stormwater management,” Hogan said. “It has everything to do with my belief, and the overwhelming majority of Marylanders’ belief, that the state should not be forcing counties to raise taxes on their citizens against their will.” …

Hogan said he believes the state does have a role in monitoring the counties’ progress in meeting federal goals, but should not tell them how to comply.

The article also noted that the reactions from House Speaker Michael Busch, Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, and House Environment and Transportation Chair Kumar Barve.

Busch, who expects to have breakfast Wednesday with Hogan, was not budging in his opposition to repeal.

“Doing the right thing is never being a loser,” Busch said. …

Miller, a Democrat, has said that he expects the Senate but not the House to pass some changes to the fees.  …

“It’s not going to be eliminated,” Miller said of the requirement. He said he is having his own bill drafted on the topic. …

Del. Kumar P. Barve, a Montgomery County Democrat who heads the House committee that will consider the legislation, said he supports the fees because he sees them as the most effective way to clean up the bay. If Hogan has an alternative to the fees, he said, the House leadership is willing to listen.

“The end point of this exercise cannot be for counties to be off the hook and do nothing,” Barve said.

The Baltimore Sun offered commentary on the proposal, critical of the Governor’s rhetoric on the matter:

Now, having created this boogeyman of the “rain tax,” Mr. Hogan is proposing to slay it through legislation that does absolutely nothing to change the status quo. The governor is not trying to forbid counties from implementing fees to meet the EPA requirements. He just wants to stop requiring them to do so — which has actually been the case all along.