The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee gave an unfavorable vote (7-4) on Governor Larry Hogan’s “Septic Stewardship Act of 2018.” The Administration bill, SB 314, made three primary changes to the septic system account under the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF).
First, the bill exempted a septic system owner from paying the BRF if: (1) the owner has a best available technology nitrogen removal (BAT) septic system; and (2) the owner did not receive a state or federal grant or income tax subtraction modification for installing the BAT septic system.
Second, the bill would allow BRF septic system account money to be used by eligible homeowners for the reasonable cost of pumping out a septic system once every 5 years. In order to be eligible, the homeowner must reside in a local jurisdiction that has developed a “septic stewardship plan.”
Finally, the bill would alter the funding distribution ratios between septic systems and cover crops. The bill would change the current 60% percent septic system/40% cover crop allocation to a 50/50 split.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, MACo supported SB 314 with an amendment to maintain the current 60/40 allocation, arguing that the BRF septic system account is one of the only State funding sources to address the needs of the septic system sector and should not be reduced.
The cross-file of SB 314 is HB 361. HB 361 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee on February 23. This may or may not change based on the Senate Committee’s action.