Maryland Republicans push for 'rain tax' repeal

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Republicans in the House of Delegates pushed their legislation Wednesday in an effort to repeal the state’s stormwater remediation fee, also known as “the rain tax.”

GOP lawmakers believe the state can work to ensure the Chesapeake Bay is healthy without negatively impacting businesses and homeowners through a tax. Passed in 2012 and instituted July 1, 2013, the tax was passed, supporters say as part of a federal mandate.

As part of the legislation passed, the 10 largest jurisdictions were required to establish their own fee with the money required to go toward stormwater remediation projects. The jurisdictions were given broad authority on how to establish the fees, leading to a wide disparity in how much residents pay.

Because of this, some businesses are on the hook for thousands of dollars while at least one county has found a way to what they believe follows the letter of the law without forcing anyone to pay the fee.

“If you ask the citizens of our state if they support efforts to clean up the bay, you will hear a resounding 'yes,” said Del. Cathy Vitale (R- Anne Arundel). “If you ask those same citizens if they support both a healthy environment and business climate, they will say 'yes.’

“These principals are not mutually exclusive.  However, the hasty manner in which the rain tax was passed failed to take into consideration the impact this legislation would have on industries that are now treated differently from county to county, and on 'consumer purchasing' from one to the other as only some businesses will have to build in these costs to their products and services.”

Del. Wayne Norman (R-Harford County) is the bill’s lead sponsor. He said the state has had more than a year to see how this policy would play out, and so far it has done nothing to improve the Chesapeake Bay.

"Cleaning up the Bay is a regional issue and it is foolish to make 10 counties in Maryland the primary focus of these efforts,” said Norman in a statement. “We need to repeal the rain tax and find a new, equitable solution that will actually improve the health of the Bay."

Republican say the rain tax is one of more than 80 tax, toll and fee increases levied on Marylanders since Gov. Martin O’Malley was elected in 2006.

Many Democrats have also expressed concerns about the implementation of the fees, but the chances of a full repeal seems unlikely.



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