Politics

Maryland Lawmakers Consider Repeal Or Reform Of "Rain Tax"

| by Will Hagle

In 2012, the state of Maryland passed a bill which resulted in a provision Democrats referred to as the “Storm Management Fee” and Republicans referred to as the “Rain Tax.” Despite the two different names, the bill had a specific purpose: comply with an federal Environmental Protection Agency mandate to prevent the storm water runoff into the Chesapeake Bay in order to reduce nitrogen levels by 22 percent and phosphorus levels by 15 percent. It attempted to accomplish this by taxing any structure that prevents proper rain drainage throughout ten counties in the state, including driveways and roofs.

The actual title of the bill was the Storm Water Management Watershed and Restoration Program, and lawmakers in Maryland recently met to consider repealing or modifying the act, according to The Blaze. 

One option proposed was to suspend the implementation of the original fee for two more years. 

“Some of the counties have received threatening letters and fines of up to $32,000 a day. So I want to kind of put a stop to that until we get a chance to see what [the Maryland Department of Environment] expects from each county,” said Sen. Barry Glassman (R), according to WBAL TV. 

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Environmental activists fought back against the repeal or delay of the law, claiming that it would unnecessarily threaten the nearby water supply. Chesapeake Bay Foundation member Alison Propts spoke on behalf of the law, claiming that the lawmakers need to take action to save the bay now. 

“Delaying the fee requirement, delaying enforcement just allows our local water quality to languish,” Propts said. 

Although the bill is controversial, it would raise the $14.8 billion necessary to curb the storm water runoff that threatens the Chesapeake Bay. Unless lawmakers can determine an alternative to the rain tax/storm management fee, it will likely remain in place for the near future.