Maryland governor moves to repeal 'rain tax'

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2015 4:45 PM

(Reuters) - Maryland's "rain tax" on stormwater runoff designed to protect the ailing Chesapeake Bay would be repealed under legislation Republican Governor Larry Hogan unveiled on Tuesday.

Hogan said in a statement that the stormwater management measure would allow nine counties and the city of Baltimore alternative ways to pay for cleaning up fouled runoff that flows into the Chesapeake Bay, the largest U.S. estuary.

“Passing a state law that forces counties to raise taxes on their citizens against their will is not the best way to address the issue,” said Hogan, whose victory in the November election was one of the biggest upsets in the United States.

The Maryland legislature established the stormwater levy, commonly called the "rain tax," in 2012. It is aimed at meeting the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act for the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which is slowly recovering from pollution and overfishing.

Hogan said the repeal measure being introduced in the House of Delegates was similar to one in the state Senate. Democrats control both chambers.

In a statement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that it was up to Maryland and other watershed states to decide how to meet pollution goals for the bay.

A major theme of Hogan's winning campaign last year was criticism of tax increases under his Democratic predecessor, Martin O'Malley, including the stormwater management levy.

Hogan's statement quoted the state director of the National Federal of Independent Business as saying the stormwater law had raised its members' taxes by up to $4,600, with the average rise $1,900, or 17 percent.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)