Bryan P. Sears//Daily Record Business Writer//February 25, 2015
//Daily Record Business Writer
//February 25, 2015
ANNAPOLIS — Two weeks after Gov. Larry Hogan rolled out legislation to repeal the so-called rain tax, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller JR. offered a competing measure.
Similar to Hogan’s legislation, Miller’s bill, introduced Thursday, would repeal the stormwater management fee mandate placed on nine counties and Baltimore City. But Miller’s bill would require the 10 jurisdictions to submit plans that prove they will be able to pay for the required stormwater pollution mitigation projects.
“This has been a very contentious issue that I believe this proposal will help resolve,” Miller said in a statement. “Certain local governments have to take action to meet their federal stormwater permit requirements. At the state level, it isn’t necessary that we mandate how a local government meets those obligations, instead this proposal requires that local governments demonstrate their plans for meeting the federal requirements.
“This legislation maintains flexibility for county governments while still ensuring that they can meet their obligations to protect and cleanup the Bay. This local control allows counties to determine which solutions work best for their communities to pay for these important projects.”
The fee, enacted in 2012, became the focus of the most recent election. Hogan is seeking to repeal the fee, which was imposed as a way to help local jurisdictions pay for federally mandated efforts to reduce the amount of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants that enter the Cheseapeake Bay.
The bill would exempt veterans organizations and volunteer fire companies from any fee if a jurisdiction chooses to impose one. Additionally, fees on nonprofit groups would be capped at $15 per 1,000-square feet. Alternative compliance plans and possibly grants could be used to help nonprofits who can show financial hardship.
Miller also attempted to address another sore spot in which counties cannot charge the state any stormwater management fees on properties within their jurisdictions. Under Miller’s legislation, the state could agree to be charged a remediation fee if the jurisdiction applies that same fee to local government-owned properties.
Miller has 29 co-sponsors on the proposed bill, including 11 Republicans.s