Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday the reduction or elimination of 155 fees across state government that he said will save Marylanders $12 million a year.
"I've said repeatedly that once we get our spending under control and get our economy back on better footing, that we would begin to roll back as many tax, toll and fee increases as we possibly could," Hogan said.
A few of the reductions announced Thursday will affect a significant number of Marylanders. They include a cut in the up-front fee for an E-ZPass transponder from $9 to $7.50, and another measure to give veterans half-price admission to state parks.
Most of the fees are for specialized permits or services, some related to business. For example, Hogan said the state is reducing fees for permits for portable lead paint analyzers, from $750 to $500; and is cutting the cost of a state health license for several types of food processing plants — including crab meat plants and shellfish shucking plants — from $400 to $300.
The administration is eliminating about 30 fees related to horse racing, including license fees for various track workers that were $5 or $10.
Watermen who need a replacement commercial fishing license will get one for free instead of having to pay $5. And holders of falconry permits will pay $10 annually, instead of $25.
The package includes a reduction in fees for birth certificates and death certificates that was approved by the General Assembly this year. Hogan had presented lawmakers with a long list of fees he wanted to reduce, and lawmakers nixed them all — except for birth and death certificates, which will be reduced from $24 to $10 apiece.
Hogan said the other fee cuts announced Thursday did not need approval by the legislature.
The cuts announced Thursday come on top of fees the Hogan administration reduced or eliminated last year, moves he said saved Marylanders about $10 million annually.
Hogan also succeeded in having the Maryland Transportation Authority reduce tolls across the state last year, which trimmed $54 million annually.
Hogan said state services will not be negatively affected by the lower fees. He said some agencies were collecting more in fees than they needed to run their programs. He did not offer examples.