MACo: New Marriage Fee Law Would Infringe on Local Decision-Making

MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally, submitted written testimony in opposition of House Bill 864, “Distribution of Marriage Fees”, which would change the way counties collect and remit marriage fees, overriding a variety of locally-supported arrangements developed over time through state law.

MACo’s testimony states,

Under current law, marriage fees are collected by a judge, clerk, or deputy clerk. From the fee, $10 is paid into each county’s general fund. The remainder of the fee in most counties is retained by the clerk (and disbursed to the State general fund); however, in some counties, a portion of the remaining fee is paid to a local historical society. In each case, these arrangements were developed through local legislation – much of which is upended by the new centralized statewide proposal in HB 864.

This bill would mandate that counties, after allocating a portion of marriage fees to their general funds, remit the remainder of the fees to the State Comptroller. The State Comptroller would then be responsible for dispersing the funds to Preservation Maryland, Inc. for the promotion of historical preservation projects. This new scheme would essentially override the current collection and remittance systems developed through a variety of county-by-county agreements and legislation.

Changing the way marriage fees are collected and remitted could create unnecessary administrative burdens for county governments. Furthermore, the bill does not allow for county input on local preservation projects funded by Preservation Maryland, Inc.

The cross-file to the bill, SB 1047, will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Proceedings committee on March 14, 2017.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.