Sun & Times Editorials Offer Their Perspectives on Stormwater Fee “Repeal”

An April 15 Baltimore Sun editorial opined that the 2015 Session was actually a good session for the Chesapeake Bay, with most of the benefits centering around the so-called “repeal” of the 2012 stormwater remediation fee or “rain tax” mandate:

Here’s a sentence that nobody expected to be written this week: The 2015 legislative session turned out pretty well for the Chesapeake Bay and some other environmental causes. How that happened almost defies logic. …

No single piece of legislation proved as unexpectedly beneficial to the cause as the so-called “rain tax repeal” — a description that requires quotation marks because, frankly, not a single word within them is accurate.

First, there was never a tax on rain, and second, there was never a need for repeal as the counties involved already had the option of using other funds to pay for federally-mandated stormwater pollution reductions. But finally, and most astoundingly, the legislation actually strengthens the law. Strange but true: It now imposes stricter reporting requirements and greater accountability. Now there will be potential penalties if Baltimore and the nine counties fail to demonstrate how they can meet remediation goals.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a statement this week calling the “repeal” a “major victory for the Chesapeake Bay.” That’s a pretty telling love letter coming from the advocacy group that pushed so hard for the “rain tax” in the first place.

An April 16 Carroll County Times editorial also stressed that the “repeal” bill only removes the stormwater fee mandate but not a county’s underlying need to pay for stormwater projects under the requirements of their federal stormwater permits:

In a nutshell: About the only thing that changed is that all the lawmakers who have been taking heat from people who bought in to the lie that rainfall on their property was being taxed can now point to their vote repealing the measure, even though the rain was never being taxed and local governments are still going to have to continue to pay for stormwater remediation projects. and now they have to submit a plan to the state telling them how they are going to do that.

So three cheers for the legislature. The rain tax is dead. Long live stormwater remediation fees.