Carroll County announced last Friday that it had received permission not to levy a stormwater fee, decried by critics as a "rain tax," on its residents.
Instead, county officials said, the office of the state's Attorney General gave Carroll permission to fund mandatory stormwater mitigation programs through existing property tax revenue.
The development begs a question: what does this mean for the eight other counties and Baltimore City, which have all been mandated by the state legislature to levy a stormwater fee on residents and businesses?
In Howard County, which passed its stormwater fee rates in July and collected the first revenues in January, there seems to be a wait-and-see philosophy in reaction to the news.
"We in Howard County stand committed to the environment and sustainability and making progress in our commitment to the Chesapeake Bay," County Executive Ken Ulman said. "I'm anxious to take a look at what the attorney general said about Carroll County."
Brown and Ulman make Columbia campaign stop
Ulman took his campaign for lieutenant governor home to Howard County at a house party in Columbia Friday night.
Ulman and gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown, currently Maryland's lieutenant governor, spoke with a little more than 100 supporters, who filled the house of Democratic organizer Mary Marker.
The two candidates mingled and then addressed the crowd, standing on a fireplace to get a better view of the room.
Their speeches mostly adhered to the talking points they've shared at other campaign events.
But, surrounded by fellow Howard County Democrats, Ulman took a moment to thank them for contributing to his success: "I know that when I'm able to talk about our quality of life, when I'm able to talk about the success we've had, our economic development climate, it is all because of you and the citizens that we're blessed to have in Howard County," he said.
Brown gave Howard a shout-out, as well: "Thank you, Howard County, for term limits on your county executive!"
Ulman is term-limited and ineligible to run for county executive again after his second term comes to a close at the end of this year.
Brown called the campaign "a campaign of substance" resting on a vision of "a better Maryland for all Marylanders."
He pointed to the ticket's 10 policy platforms online, ranging from the environment to domestic violence prevention and closing the achievement gap. A priority, he said, was expanding pre-K education in the state, which proposes setting aside "enhanced gaming revenue" to fund universal pre-K for all 4-year-olds by 2018.
When asked about a recent announcement that state revenues were $238 million lower than projected this year, Brown said he has had to deal with budget cuts throughout his two terms serving alongside Gov. Martin O'Malley. For fiscal year 2015, he pointed out, the administration didn't have to introduce any new taxes.
"We've been here before, and we can balance this budget and continue to maintain our priorities in education, health care, safety and the environment," he said.
HCEA makes two more endorsements in District 12
The Howard County Education Association has endorsed two more candidates in the District 12 delegate race.
HCEA President Paul Lemle announced March 4 that the group was recommending Democrats Clarence Lam and Brian Bailey for the seat. HCEA endorsed Eric Ebersole, another Democratic candidate, in January.
"[Lam] is a dedicated public servant and a thoughtful leader; we believe his energy will serve our community well in the General Assembly," Lemle said.
Of Bailey, Lemle said: "Brian Bailey went out of his way to include educator voices in Southwest Baltimore County's Educational Advisory Council, and we respect that kind of initiative."