On March 6, Maryland’s House Environment and Transportation Committee sunk several bills aimed at lifting state stormwater fees. Under a 2012 mandate, the state’s 10 most populous jurisdictions, which include Phase I municipal separate storm sewer system communities, are required to charge a fee to pay for their stormwater management programs. Under this law, jurisdictions have the flexibility to determine how the fee is structured and where the money is spent.
However, surveys show these fees are unpopular in Maryland. According to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, 65% of residents support lowering the fee; a majority of self-identified democrats and independents support removing the fee. Only Montgomery County residents, who first saw the fee on bills in 2002, oppose lowering the fee by a majority (55%).
Repealing the fee was one of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s central campaign promises. However, House democrats voted against the bills to lift the fee in favor of continuing progress on restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Meanwhile, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) introduced legislation (S.B. 863) that would remove the fee but require jurisdictions to create “financial assurance” plans showing how they would pay to manage stormwater. Additionally, there are several bills that would eliminate the stormwater fee law awaiting action in the Senate.