Whether it be in the form of stormwater projects or farming regulations, Carroll County residents and politicians have consistently shown disdain for state-mandated environmental efforts meant to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Recently, the county was able to work out a deal with the state to essentially dodge implementing the "rain tax."
However, further regulations are planned by the state in the years to come, which could cost millions of dollars more for local governments, and a lot of money for business owners and residents.
Seven Republicans for the District 5 House of Delegates are seeking to advance to November's general election. Voters can select up to three candidates in the June 24 primary election, who will then move on to the general election.
The two House Democrat candidates will automatically advance to the general election. In the District 5 Senate race, both the Republican and Democrat candidates are running unopposed.
We asked the candidates: Carroll County government, the county's eight municipalities, farmers and businesses have faced - or are expected to face - numerous environmental mandates from the state. Many of the requirements are meant to protect the Chesapeake Bay. What is your view of these mandates? Do you agree with them? If not, what is your plan in relation to them?
District 5 House of Delegates Republican candidates
Carmen Amedori: The rain tax is an unnecessary mandate and I support the senate approach of the added budget language to exempt Carroll County from the rain tax but our four delegates voted against that budget language. Fortunately, through senate action the language stayed in the budget to protect Carroll County from lawsuits. The mandate is a big government overreach.
Donald Elliott: My major problem with these mandates is the unfairness in which they are implemented. Consider the "rain tax" being required of only eight jurisdictions in though some counties bordering the bay are not included. Also the massive taxes placed on Maryland citizens for the clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay when a major polluter is the Susquehanna River which is govern by Pennsylvania and the sediment continues to build. Also the mandates to municipalities to have upgrades of waste water treatment facilities and if the facility processes less than 500,000 gallons of pollutants per day, they are denied grant assistance.
Susan Krebs: I disagree with the premise of the "Rain Tax" and voted against it. I worked with county staff and the Chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee to secure an agreement recognizing the work Carroll County has done in storm water management and the plans the county has to handle future permit requirements - our efforts were recognized and Carroll County will have no "rain tax." We need to look at the science behind these mandates and have cost-benefit analysis done before adding any additional environmental mandates. Protection of the Chesapeake Bay is vital, but the real issues need to be addressed such as dredging the Conowingo Dam.
Justin Ready: I have opposed unfunded, scientifically dubious environmental mandates that have come down from the O'Malley-Brown administration. The Rain Tax was the most well-known of these mandates but bans on septic systems for developments, the phosphorus management tools, and other regulations have made our state extremely difficult for farmers and businesses. The anti-farming bent of the O'Malley-Brown administration actually puts open space and good environmental stewardship in jeopardy. While I was proud to be a part of the successful Carroll House Delegation effort to exempt Carroll County from the rain tax, I believe we need to repeal the whole law and evaluate environmental policies on the basis of science and cost-benefit analysis, not emotion. I've put in legislation to require efficacy studies to be conducted on proposed environmental regulations before they are implemented to ensure that they will not harm our economy or not achieve real environmental progress.
Haven Shoemaker: Let's face it. Many of the draconian environmental regulations which have been put in place in recent years were created so that the Governor could run as a green candidate for President. Otherwise, why would Maryland deprive folks of property rights in the name of cleaning the Chesapeake Bay while the Bay continues to be polluted by neighboring states who aren't subject to the same types of regulations. I support repeal of the rain tax, the septic bill, and a moratorium on any additional environmental burdens until the surrounding states in the watershed agree to clean up their acts.
Joshua Stonko: The implementation of the rain tax is the most obtrusive environmental mandate created by our government in recent history. The rain tax, along with many other environmental mandates, work against local government, small businesses, farmers, and property owners throughout our county. These mandates are not only expensive to our taxpayers, but they have proven to be ineffective at cleaning the Chesapeake Bay. I support the approach taken by our Senate Delegation that successfully exempts Carroll County from the rain tax and prevents the county from the lawsuits due to the Maryland Department of Environment's agreement. Unfortunately, our House Delegation members voted against these measures that would protect Carroll County from further state intervention.
Kevin Utz: As the Mayor of Westminster, I see the monumental cost rising not only for the county government, but also each of the municipalities. The unfunded mandates from the EPA, MDE and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's court suits, have leveled the playing field very unevenly toward those well outside of the critical bay areas. While our delegation feels that they won the battle of no rain tax, they failed to understand the continued massive burden these cost will have on the municipalities. I'll be a strong advocate of building consensus among both Republicans and Democrats to show the negative financial effects of the strict regulatory and state laws regarding storm water management, and also TMDL's from our waste water systems and opponent to the continued unfunded mandates.
House of Delegates Democratic candidates
Zachary Hands: This is extraordinarily complicated. However, I fully understand those who object to these mandates. It's hard to get behind something that has very little to do with you, especially when you have to pay for it. But, residents have to understand that ignoring these mandates could hurt them down the road as well. The environmental state of the state is critical to everyone, and just as there are things that may not affect a person in Baltimore City but affects someone in Carroll County, we work as a unit. I do believe that enacting the mandates without considering the drawbacks for western counties would be prescient for leaders in Annapolis.
Dorothy Scanlan: I am assuming you mean the Stormwater Management fee, management of TMDL's, the 'flush tax,' nutrient management for farmers, and the upgrading by municipalities of wastewater treatment plants, etc. I am in favor of preserving and protecting the Bay for future generations and I will weigh each case individually, based on the science and its impact on the Bay and our citizens. It's not just about protecting the Bay - it's about protecting our local groundwater and streams, too. Mandates should not automatically mean an associated tax or fee, and I think in some cases we can come up with creative solutions instead. We should work to build more flexibility into the regulations to reflect differences in the counties. For example, I think the state could have done a better job partnering with the counties and brainstorming creative solutions to stormwater management rather than just slap a fee on those jurisdictions.
Senate Republican candidate
Joe Getty: The rain tax law specifically requires each jurisdiction to create a new tax. Sen. Brinkley and I convinced the Senate leadership to adopt budget language authorizing the Carroll County Commissioners to be exempt from the new impervious surface tax through an alternative agreement to carve-out property tax revenues as dedicated for stormwater management. Our amendment would have made this option available to all 10 counties required to enact the new tax. That amendment was partially rejected by the House after intense opposition from the environmental lobby but the Senate held firm and the language that allows Carroll and Frederick counties to be exempt from the new tax was adopted by the General Assembly.
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District 5 Senate Democratic candidate
Anita Riley: Restoring and keeping the Chesapeake Bay healthy is very important for now and for future generations to come. I would have no problems with mandates, if given to those who are known to be most responsible for its deterioration.