Senate President Weighs In On Stormwater Fees With Broad Bill

Maryland Senate President Miller introduced his own bill (with a majority of the Senate signed on as co-sponsors) on February 25, 2015 that would repeal the stormwater fee mandate for Maryland’s nine largest counties and Baltimore City.

According to the Capital Gazette, Senate Bill 863: Watershed Protection and Restoration Programs – Revisions, would

…would require those local governments to submit a report on how they plan to pay for storm-water pollution projects required of them by the federal government to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

“This has been a very contentious issue that I believe this proposal will help resolve,” Miller said in a statement announcing introduction of his bill. With 30 cosponsors, including 11 Republicans, it appears sure to pass the 47-member Senate.

“This legislation maintains flexibility for county governments while still ensuring that they can meet their obligations to protect and clean up the bay,” Miller said.

The main elements of the bill include:

  • repeals the mandated stormwater fee, currently imposed on 10 counties
  • requires the 10 counties to prepare annual reports on their plans, progress, and financial assurances regarding their EPA-issued federal stormwater permits
  • eliminates any fee on veterans organizations, caps any fees on other nonprofit organizations, and mandates a “financial hardship” process for nonprofits to reach alternatives to paying the fee
  • requires counties employing a fee to label it in collection documents as in response to federal stormwater management requirements

    Read the full bill text online. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing, and due to its late introduction is currently in the Senate Rules Committee (a reassignment to one or more standing committees is likely in the days ahead).