Gov. Hogan Outlines Bill to Repeal 'Rain Tax' - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Gov. Hogan Outlines Bill to Repeal 'Rain Tax'

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Larry Hogan kicked off a push for his legislative agenda on Tuesday by calling for the repeal of state-mandated stormwater management fees, which are designed to pay for reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Hogan, a Republican, campaigned on eliminating what critics call "the rain tax."

"No matter where I traveled across the state, no issue resonates as strongly - and no tax increase has more opposition - than this one does," Hogan said.

Hogan said his proposal wouldn't change requirements that 10 Maryland jurisdictions pay for stormwater management to help stop pollution from rainfall that flows into state waters from roads and other impervious surfaces. The bill would enable counties to find alternative ways of funding it, he said, and Carroll County already is doing that.

"It has everything to do with my belief, and the overwhelming majority of Marylanders' beliefs, that the state should not be forcing counties to raise taxes on their citizens against their will," Hogan said.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is opposing the measure. The group contends the current law creates funding for programs that counties had failed to produce on their own for years.

"That's why the 2012 law was such a milestone," said Alison Prost, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "For the first time, local governments were provided resources to address the problem and many of them have already started to implement improvements. The bills introduced today would send Maryland backwards."

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said the governor's bill would give counties a chance to meet federally mandated requirements on stormwater management that fit them best. He also said it would eliminate the guesswork counties would face in terms of interpretation of how the law applies to them, if they sought a different approach as Carroll County did.

"It really levels the playing field for all Maryland counties, so that we can address this individually," Glassman, a Republican, said.

Sen. James Brochin, a Democrat, said the law is flawed, because affected jurisdictions are addressing the requirements in vastly different ways.

"There's no unification on how to clean up the bay, and everybody is kind of doing their own thing," Brochin, of Baltimore County, said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert, has said he doesn't support an outright repeal, but he backs giving counties more discretion in how they pay for stormwater management. House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, has expressed opposition to changing the law.

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