April 25, 2013

Legislature likely to change ‘rain tax,’ say some Democratic lawmakers

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Rain on road

(Photo by elycefeliz on Flickr)

By Len Lazarick

Len@MarylandReporter.com

Rain on road

(Photo by elycefeliz on Flickr)

The “rain tax,” as opponents have dubbed the stormwater runoff fees set to kick in July 1, is likely to be modified, key legislative leaders told a business group Thursday. The fees could amount to hundreds of dollars for residents of some counties and thousands more for businesses and even churches.

“As you see this thing played out, the legislature will do something,” Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Ed Kasemeyer told a Howard County Chamber of Commerce breakfast. It’s unclear when that might happen, since the General Assembly is not scheduled to meet again until January, and tax bills will hit mailboxes in July.

“I think it’s not over yet,” said Kasemeyer, who had sought to delay implementation of the fees for two years, amending a bill exempting nonprofit groups and churches from the charges. The Senate approved the amendment on the last day of the General Assembly April 8, but a House committee let the bill die.

Not over with yet

“I don’t think it’s over with yet,” said Sen. Jim Robey, D-Howard and a subcommittee chair on the tax-writing committee. “We have to go back and make this tax better.”

Del. Frank Turner, another Howard County Democrat who is vice-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, agreed, using the same words as Robey. “I don’t think it’s over yet.”

Last year in its final hours, the legislature passed a bill mandating that nine counties and Baltimore City establish fees on impervious surfaces such as parking lots, driveways and roofs, with the money going toward cleaning up stormwater runoff to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

“I think the legislature didn’t do an adequate job setting guidelines” on how the fees were to be applied, Kasemeyer said. Counties have taken different approaches implementing the fees, with low fees in some counties such as Frederick.

Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman announced Thursday she was vetoing the measure passed by the County Council. She told The Capital newspaper that residents were unaware a new tax was coming along.

Churches concerned

As one extreme example, Robey noted that the huge car import facilities on the south side of the Port of Baltimore are facing fees of $400,000 per year.

Other delegates have been approached by pastors complaining of the fee. Del. Warren Miller, R-Howard, said one Clarksville church believes it will have to pay $30,000. And Del. Steve DeBoy D-Baltimore-Howard, said a priest at St. Augustine Church in Elkridge told him, “This tax is really going to hurt us.”

Environmental groups supported the fees as a way to comply with bay cleanup mandates from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The groups were so strongly in favor of the runoff fees that even though they wanted to exempt nonprofit groups, they successfully fought to kill that bill once Kasemeyer’s delaying amendment was approved.

There was intense debate over the fees last year, but it was only this year that opponents began calling it the “rain tax,” a catchier political slogan.

“I hope it will go the same way as the computer services tax,” said Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard-Carroll. That tax was passed in the final hours of a 2007 special session, but was repealed a few months later when its impact on information technology industry become clear.

  • Lightning

    Most of us in Garrett County MD do not have rain water that runs off our lands and flowsin the direction toward the Bay! We also would in effect actually be double taxed as much of our rain water goes into largest late in Maryland that is again used to generate electric power were also pay again to use! We in effect should be rewarded, & be pay for clean water we let run to lake to be in effect be sold by others!

  • Erik Michelsen

    It was not “environmental groups” that wanted to exempt non-profit groups. That’s one of Senator Pipkin’s talking points. It was several powerful religious organizations and large non-profits.

    • InGodWeTrust

      So what? It’s an IDIOT, NO COMMON SENSE, CONTROL-FREAK bill, regardless !!

  • They had better do something about it, and quickly too. The residents of Maryland are just starting to realize what a bad piece of legislation this really is. Not only will individual taxpayers in certain counties have to pick up a direct share of this new tax on their property tax bills, but everyone who shops in Maryland will also pay an indirect share of teh rain tax every time they go to the store (any store) to buy goods and services. And it’s that “hidden” part of the tax that is so insidious. The cost of practically everything we buy will go up to compensate for the additional costs of doing business in Maryland. Then add that cost to all of the other new or newly increased taxes, fees & mandatory expenditures going into effect this year, and there’s no doubt that many Maryland residents are about to find it much more challenging to maintain their standard of living here in the “Free State”.

    • Jazzee

      wow another democrat leave it up to O’Malley to come up with this dumb tax
      I sure hope nobody in my state even thinks about it……….give it up reduce government governor bet you can check twice and get off the rain for goodness sake

  • these people focus upon revenues–and rarely focus upon solutions–if a US Federal worker sits in traffic in Maryland it becomes a priority– if some donor’s daughter figures out a way to finance a vacuous–do nothing premise it is financed– The Maryland State Government is nothing but a microcosm–of it’s over bloated Federal neighbor— the hubris is maddening

  • InGodWeTrust

    This is another confirmation that the GREENEY GOON environmental groups are out of control. This is totally disgusting and outrageous. It reminds me of the new definition of ‘liberals’: One who is so open-minded, their brains have fallen out.

  • Nomoretaxes

    We can barely pay our taxes now. MD Rain Tax? I say get your hands out of our pockets! Some Churches and Business can face 30k and up in new taxes! Our Governor and his party have no shame in what they are doing to the people. Lots of talk about plans to leave Maryland. No longer the Free State.

  • The Susquehanna river in Pa is one of the LARGEST polluters of the Chesapeake Bay!!!! Do PA residents pay a tax to clean up the bay??? I think NOT! How about WV and VA? They probably don’t pay to help clean up the bay but have more access to the Potomac River than Marylanders do. What about the rivers that flow from those states they polute the bay too. Why do Marylanders have to absorb the cost of cleaning up their pollution? I feel that those states should help to clean up the bay also!!!!!

    • Steve

      Don’t spread the pain to other states. Don’t give legislators more bad ideas. How about we stop the BS tax hikes and make the state balance the budget while putting existing money into more efficient programs. Our politicians spend like there is no bottom to the piggy bank and the money hungry Donkeys keep he-hawing for more money and power. Throwing more money at this problem will do nothing but bankrupt the people. They need to stop robbing from Peter to pay Paul just to ask the people for more money to pay Peter. Peter being all of the wanted and needed programs while Paul are all of the pet projects and kick back programs for the major donors. They claim they needed to raise bridge toll fees to pay for bridge maintenance yet the only reason why they don’t have the money (from the tolls that were suppose to pay for the bridge in the first place) is because they took the money to pay for some other BS that they knew they wouldn’t get public support for if they asked for a tax to pay for it directly. Now they are raising the bridge tax again with the same claim. Now this rain tax?!? Where is all of this money going?!?

      • abby_adams

        So only 9 counties should pay the freight? The watershed that feeds the Bay is vast & many states contribute to the pollution. I won’t argue abt gov wasting the $$ but our august legislators in Annapolis passed the bill, dumping the problem on the locals & now it’s the problem of property owners in those 9 counties (8 if you consider AA Co. executive who said she will veto the bill passed). Unless & until we vote the bums out, we the people will never get a fair shake, especially not in the New Progressive State of MD where the next $$ grab may entail taxing the CO2 we exhale with every breathe.

  • O’Malley is a IDIOT

    The only thing they will do is INCREASE the TAX.

  • The legislators are focusing on the Churchs, etc, which will have hefty bills. But what is happening from what I hear, is that many Marylanders are “talking” about leaving Maryland when they can. Not all will follow through with these threats, I know, but there is an impetus building. It won’t be to “throw the bums out”, because they’re all the same. The move will be to find a way out. Florida is great, but Delaware, Virginia and Pennsylvania are all a lot closer and they are not doing what O’Malley, Miller and Busch are doing to their citizens.

  • Mike Pretl

    Everyone wants to clean up the Chesapeake Bay — but nobody wants to pay for the cleanup.

    • snowmaggedoned

      Let’s start with you….can you contribute $30,000 into the pot….er…I mean Chesapeake Bay???

  • WeAreAllActivistsNow

    (3) FOR THE PURPOSE OF MONITORING AND VERIFYING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ON–SITE SYSTEMS, FACILITIES, SERVICES, OR ACTIVITIES UNDER PARAGRAPH (2)(III) OF THIS SUBSECTION, A COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY MAY:
    (I) CONDUCT ON–SITE INSPECTIONS;
    (II) AUTHORIZE A THIRD PARTY, CERTIFIED BY THE DEPARTMENT, TO CONDUCT ON–SITE INSPECTIONS ON BEHALF OF THE COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY; OR
    (III) REQUIRE A PROPERTY OWNER TO HIRE A THIRD PARTY, CERTIFIED BY THE DEPARTMENT, TO CONDUCT AN ON–SITE INSPECTION AND PROVIDE TO THE COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY THE RESULTS OF THE INSPECTION AND ANY OTHER INFORMATION REQUIRED BY THE COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY.

  • abby_adams

    This is a prime example of woefully poor legislation that continues to sprout from Annapolis. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed includes waterways from several other states including New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, & West Virginia yet property owners in 9 MD counties are being subjected to a rain water tax with amounts set independently by each county? Unless I’m mistaken, haven’t these same counties plus others around the state enacted building & sediment rules that dictate construction procedures on homes & commercial properties & fine those that don’t comply? Yet we must pony up to please an over reaching EPA & the hordes of environmentalists that demand $$ that will do little in the clean up department but fund educational outreaches, community cleanups & a bunch of administrators to run the program.

    Tax on top of tax, on top of fee, on top of toll, on top of tax & the Dems in Annapolis don’t blink an eye as they attempt to extract yet more pennies from our pockets.

  • REPEAL IT ! Let the “enviroinMENTAL CASES” pay for it with donations from people with the same philosophy…
    Also, the water running off roads, bridges,etc. is just as polluting as that running off private walkways, driveways, roofs, etc…

  • lov de maupeaasent

    hey guy

  • lov de maupeaasent

    YALLLLLLLL BUTTTTTTTT STANKKKKKKKKKK