A number of factors contributed to Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2014 victory, a major one being a new law meant to deal with stormwater runoff dubbed “the rain tax” by Mr. Hogan and his supporters. The “Stormwater Management - Watershed Protection and Restoration Program,” or House Bill 987, placed a user fee on property owners to compensate for polluted runoff coming from properties located in Maryland’s 10 most populous jurisdictions. These fees were used to construct infrastructure to reduce flooding and erosion.
Republicans in Maryland made political hay out of House Bill 987 — Mr. Hogan even handed out personalized umbrellas. The idea that the Democratic establishment was taxing the very rain that fell from the sky stuck in people’s minds, even though that was decidedly not what the legislation did, and it made a huge difference in swing precincts. While Governor Hogan is far from the first politician to deliberately misrepresent facts, his response should be kept in mind after the disastrous flooding this weekend (“After second devastating flood in two years, what are Ellicott City business owners planning now?” May 29).
The now-repealed law was imperfect, but it sought to address infrastructural problems like the ones we saw this weekend, encouraging developers to build with an eye toward reducing dangerous runoff. This kind of investment is absolutely necessary if Maryland’s communities are to survive in the rapidly changing environment, and Marylanders should keep that in mind this November.
Julia Byrne, Catonsville
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