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2014 Gubernatorial Candidates Debate Md. Environmental Challenges

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The 2014 candidates for governor took a crack at the state’s environmental challenges Tuesday.

Political reporter Pat Warren has more on what hot button issues lie ahead.

Celebrating breakthroughs like restoring the oyster population and footing the bill for the Bay with a rain tax, Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates took stands on stormwater runoff and land use management to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

The rain tax, which charges property owners for the water that runs into the bay, has the full support of the Brown-Ulman ticket.

“And we are embracing the stormwater utility in Howard County, brought the stakeholders together and are implementing a plan that is fair and doesn’t run away from our burden like other counties are,” said Ken Ulman, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

Democrat primary candidates Doug Gansler and Heather Mizeur might consider modifications but Delegate Mizeur voted for the tax and as Attorney General, Gansler is enforcing it.

“I’m not going to be looking back at the different taxes and figure which are good and which aren’t. We need to have a comprehensive view of our tax structure,” Gansler said.

“I would have preferred the original bill on stormwater to have been statewide. I’m open to having the conversation about expanding who this applies to,” Mizeur said.

Republican primary candidate David Craig has a different approach.

“I’m never in favor of the state putting unfunded mandates on local government,” Craig said.

Republican Charles Lollar says the tax places an unfair burden on Maryland when six states share responsibility for the bay.

“The EPA has mandated all six states should be contributing to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup,” he said.

And Republican Ron George expects to see the tax revisited in the next legislative session.

“There is a better approach. Right now, the stormwater management fee–the rain tax is a better title, because only two percent of the nitrates that go into the bay come from that stormwater management,” George said.

There’s a 2014 legislative session before the 2014 election so this and other issues could change by then.

Anne Arundel County on Monday lowered the rain tax for all nonprofit organizations to $1.

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