On Legislature’s last day, MCC pushes stormwater bill

By Maria Wiering

mwiering@CatholicReview.org

Twitter: @ReviewWiering
The Maryland Catholic Conference is urging Catholics to contact their state legislators to push passage of a bill that would mitigate nonprofits’ financial responsibility for the state’s stormwater fees.
They’re working on a tight deadline: The last day of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2013 session is April 8.
Last year, a bill passed requiring nine Maryland counties and Baltimore City to assess fees on non-government-owned properties based on square-footage of impervious surface. The fees would fund the state’s stormwater runoff mitigation efforts.
Nonprofits are not exempted from the fees, and their directors have raised concerns about how the fees may affect their budgets.
The MCC has said that the fees could cost Catholic parishes, schools and charities thousands of dollars. William J. McCarthy, Catholic Charities of Baltimore executive director, said he estimates the costs to Catholic Charities to exceed $150,000.
The affected jurisdictions are at various stages of plan development for fee collection. Plans are due for finalization July 1.
The MCC supports HB 508, which would delay the local implementation of all fees until 2015, giving affected parties “a clear understanding of their impact.” The jurisdictions would not be required to set fees until July 2014.
“This is a reasonable measure that will give everyone an opportunity to have appropriate input about the calculation of fees,” the MCC said in an April 6 “action alert” email. “The delay will also provide all entities, including churches, schools and other nonprofits, time to implement mitigation efforts to help reduce stormwater runoff of accomplish a goal we all want: protecting the Chesapeake Bay.”
Sponsored by State Delegate Alfred C. Carr Jr. (D-Montgomery), the bill passed the House of Delegates March 21 and awaits a vote on the Senate floor.
The MCC advocates for public policy on behalf of the state’s bishops.
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