It’s no secret that people in Maryland care about Chesapeake Bay. I’ve noted before that any legislation deemed to be “for the Bay” would likely pass in Maryland regardless of its merits – even the mythical Chesapeake Bay Legalization of Murder Act of 2011 might get the support of rabid environmentalists if they could kill off the right people – after all, it’s “for the Bay!”
(For all you high-strung progressives and PC police types, yes, I’m only kidding. Sort of. Somewhere in this state I’m sure a Jared Loughner type is lurking and he or she may just take up that type of offer if presented.)
But when septic systems in Maryland create a relatively small portion of the problem, the effect on rural development may be akin to taking a sledgehammer to an ant. It’s not like Wicomico County is growing by leaps and bounds, despite what the Census may have said – I’d wager most of that population growth occurred before 2006. Since that point, planned residential developments such as Aydelotte Farms and the Village at Salisbury Lake (a.k.a. the Old Mall) have built up slowly, if at all. The building slump also affected commercial plans such as the Hobbs Road development I was involved in. Overall, the number of building permits issued is well off its mid-decade peak.
While it’s true that other counties in Maryland may be developing faster, the idea of the ban is simple and can be summed up in two words: “smart growth.” (To me, it’s more of a “so-called” concept because who’s to say what is smart for us here on the Eastern Shore? Certainly not some faceless planner locked in an Annapolis or Washington office building.) In other words, under “smart growth” you will develop property where we (the government) tell you to, and if you happen to own property outside that area you may want to build on sometime down the road, well, you’re shit outta luck. We need to preserve those wildlife corridors and wetlands for mother Gaia’s creatures.
The state moved in this direction several years ago with the “flush tax” and accelerated the process last year by requiring nitrogen removal on new septic systems – but they only could cover a portion (if any) of the additional costs incurred by hapless homeowners forced to switch to or install these units.
A hearing on HB1107 is slated in front of the Environmental Matters Committee on March 11 at 1 p.m.
But even if we can stave off the ban for a year or two – you know O’Malley and his environmentalist buddies are going to keep knocking on this door until we finally tire of the fight and relent – we Maryland drivers also have the prospect of an additional gas tax hanging over our heads.
Now, the argument on this one is that we’ve not raised the gas tax in nearly twenty years and we need to make sure there’s money in the Transportation Trust Fund. (Of course, that’s until the fund is raided by a certain governor – who shall remain nameless – to balance his budget.) One bill which would make the pilfering more difficult but raise gas taxes 10 cents a gallon now AND provide for automatic increases in the future was introduced by Western Shore Democrats in the House and Senate. Another bill which would force Eastern Shore drivers to subsidize mass transit used across the bay via a 4% sales tax on gasoline is SB451. The House bill will be heard March 1; the Senate bills on March 9.
In general, we on the Shore drive a lot. It’s not uncommon for a resident to put 20,000 miles a year on their car or truck and if they get 20 miles from a gallon of gas the extra dime a gallon would cost them $100 a year. That may not seem like a lot, but for those who make their living on the road and pile on even more mileage it’s a serious dent placed on their finances. This provision also puts in place a permanent tax hike each year, meaning the state takes more and more out of your wallet.
If I didn’t know liberals as well as I do I’d be perplexed that they can back the state getting another dime of pure revenue out of a gallon of gas through taxation yet bitch and moan about the oil companies who actually do the work of extracting, refining, and delivering the gasoline to the pump for your use making a nickel a gallon profit. But I know them so I just shrug my shoulders at their hypocrisy. I’m used to it.
(And yes, I bitch and moan about the state of the roads, too. My suggestion for improvement: stop subsidizing mass transit that no one rides and start filling potholes. Oh, and get rid of that “living wage” crap while you’re at it so we can save a little bit on road construction labor costs.)
But if you’re tired of the state always trying to take, take, take, you may be interested in a brand new website called stopthegastax.com. (Frankly, I’m amazed they got the domain name considering there’s always someone in some state trying to gouge motorists.) There’s still a little construction to do there but you can sign a petition against the gas tax and vent your frustration.
Instead of raising the gas tax, the alcohol tax and income tax rates for the upper crust, why not prioritize what we have and live within our means for awhile? That’s what the private sector has been forced to do.