On the heels of Maryland's decision to enact tough new gun laws, the ironically nicknamed state (the "Free State") will now impose a so-called "rain tax" on its residents.
The "storm management fee," passed by the state legislature in 2012, will go into effect following a decree from Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley.
But first, a little background [via the The Gazette]:
In 2010 the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland to reduce stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay so that nitrogen levels fall 22 percent and phosphorus falls 15 percent from current amounts. The price tag: $14.8 billion.
And where do we get the $14.8 billion? By taxing so-called "impervious surfaces," anything that prevents rain water from seeping into the earth (roofs, driveways, patios, sidewalks, etc.) thereby causing stormwater run off. In other words, a rain tax.
The EPA ordered Maryland to raise the money (an unfunded mandate), Maryland ordered its 10 largest counties to raise the money (another unfunded mandate) and, now, each of those counties is putting a local rain tax in place by July 1.
The 10 areas affected by the "rain tax" include Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Hartford, Charles, Frederick, Baltimore counties, and Baltimore city.
"Fees will be calculated on the surface area of properties as the theory is that roofs, driveways and carparks create more potential for drainage problems and water contamination," Metro explains. "Councils are supposed to determine how much to charge per square foot, but the fee depends on the size of the building and surrounding paved surfaces."
But how will tax collectors know how to tax "impervious surfaces"? How will they know how much to charge per square foot?
Again, we turn to The Gazette: "Thanks to satellite imagery and geographic information systems, Big Brother can measure your roof and driveway (and you thought drones were only used for killing terrorists)."
Yes, according to this report, Maryland will use satellite imagery to calculate "storm management" fees.
And how does the state plan to spend these new tax dollars? It's unclear:
The state law is kind of squishy. It can be spent to build and maintain stream and wetland restoration projects. And, of course, a lot of it will go to "monitoring, inspection, enforcement, review of stormwater management plans and permit applications and mapping of impervious surfaces." In other words, hiring more bureaucrats to administer the rain tax program.
It can also be spent on "public education and outreach" (whatever that means) and on "grants to nonprofit organizations" (i.e. to the greenies who pushed the tax through the various levels of government).
Also: "[S]tate lawmakers exempted government-owned property from the rain tax but imposed it on religions and nonprofits (which own big roofs and parking lots)."
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