Rain Tax Repeal Drowned By “Tax and Spend” Legislators
In a pitiful party line vote last Friday, the fourteen democratic delegates that sit on the House Environment and Transportation Committee (Kumar Barve, Dana Stein, Pamela Beidle, Alfred Carr, David Fraser-Hidalgo, Barbara Frush, Jim Gilchrist, Anne Healey, Marvin Holmes, Tony Knotts, Stephen Lafferty, Clarence Lam, Cory McCray, and Shane Robinson) struck down HB481, a bill which would have repealed the infamous and unpopular Rain Tax (officially known as the Stormwater Management – Watershed Protection and Restoration Program), which was approved by both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly in 2012 and signed by former Governor Martin O’Malley.
Rejecting Governor Hogan’s bill to repeal the Rain Tax sent a strong message throughout Maryland: When it comes to cleaning up the political atmosphere of Annapolis, status quo legislators are toxic.
Through the Rain Tax, a fee is calculated on impervious surfaces–such as roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots–that do no absorb rain water. And, perhaps the most unfair part of the legislation (besides the fact that it exists in the first place), is that only 9 of Maryland’s counties, as well as Baltimore City, were slapped with the responsibility to comply with this program, which originated from an EPA order to reduce storm water runoff that was extended to several states with a price tag of $14.8 billion.
Unfortunately for Maryland democratic legislators—and specifically for those sitting on the House Environment and Transportation Committee—they passed on an opportunity to make amends with the People of Maryland, and instead became the new faces of the “Tax and Spend” culture that has infected the Annapolis establishment for far too long.
Funny how during the 2014 Gubernatorial Election, democrats, republicans, and independents throughout Maryland were able to clearly see the need for real change in Annapolis, yet many of those who sit comfortably in their legislative offices are blinded by partisanship.
I also believe that many status quo legislators in the General Assembly suffer from what I have called, “Sore Loser Syndrome”. These individuals cannot seem to come to terms with the fact that Anthony Brown is not residing in Government House, and they seem determined to block whatever Governor Hogan may support. Indeed, in these legislators’ minds, revenge comes before results.
But let me just place myself in their shoes for a moment. If I were a democratic member of the General Assembly—and specifically a democratic lawmaker who sits on the House Environment and Transportation Committee—why would I see it as politically advantageous to become the new face of the “Tax and Spend” culture in Annapolis? Starting in 2007 when he took over the Governor’s office, Martin O’Malley had approved new and increased taxes and fees 40 times, with a projected cost of $9.5 billion through FY2014. The 2015 Session could have been a new beginning for legislators to work with a new administration–put into governance by Marylanders for presenting and promoting a fresh message of change–to relieve individuals, families, and businesses from burdensome taxes. Instead, they stepped back in time and cemented their legacies to the O’Malley/Brown “Tax and Spend” culture.
To me, being associated with the “Tax and Spend” culture in Annapolis is a no win situation.
For the self-absorbed politician, there appears to be no political points to grab. No current legislator will put on his or her reelection signs and literature that they defended the Rain Tax, an issue that was so widely spoken of during the recent Gubernatorial Election in a State which has only elected a republican to the Governor’s office twice in 60 years.
And for the politician who actually wants to make a difference and bring more individuals, families, and businesses to Maryland, he or she shouldn’t be supporting the Rain Tax, anyways!
By the way, speaking of politicians who actually want to make a difference and are sticking up for us in the State House, we need to mention the “Solid Seven” republican delegates on the House Environment and Transportation Committee who stood with Governor Hogan and voted in favor of his Rain Tax repeal: Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, Carl Anderton, Andrew Cassilly, Robert Flanagan, Jay Jacobs, Tony O’Donnell, and Charles Otto.
Whether status quo politicians recognize it or not, the political landscape of Maryland is starting to change. I have a feeling that when the 2018 Elections roll around, the voters will be looking for more common sense individuals to send to Annapolis.