Maryland House panel rejects Hogans rain tax repeal bill

Maryland House panel rejects Hoganês rain tax repeal bill

The Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee last week voted down Governor Larry Hoganês proposal to repeal the stormwater remediation fee, a.k.a. –The rain tax.” The bill that established the fee, signed into law in 2012, requires 10 of the stateês largest jurisdictions to tax its citizens to clean up stormwater runoff from paved surfaces before it flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The bill was passed to meet a federal mandate. The amount of the fee is related to the size of the landownerês property, meaning some businesses would owe significant dollars in taxes.

The vote was along party lines, with 14 Democrats opposing and 7 Republicans supporting repeal. The action was a reminder that passing bills in a divided government may be as hard for the minority party in Maryland (the Republicans) as it is in Washington, (the Democrats).

Just the same, Gov. Hogan made it clear he is not giving up.

–No issue resonates as strongly and no tax is as universally detested as this rain tax,” he said in a statement. –Passing a law that forces only a handful of counties to raise taxes on their citizens against their will is wrong, unfair, and it needs to end.”

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that 65 percent of state residents want the fee reduced. Montgomery County is the exception, with 55 percent of county residents supporting the fee at its current level.

Governor Hogan said he remains confident that the General Assembly will repeal the fee.

An alternative bill has been introduced by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D) that would make the fee optional as long as counties submit a plan showing how they will pay for cleanup of the Bay. Those who oppose any change to the law say that the fee is already optional. Harford County has repealed it, and the Baltimore City Council has voted to reduce the fee. Frederick County charges households one cent per household, and Carroll County never adopted the fee.

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