Md. rural officials, lawmakers threaten tax revolt, mass exodus over environmental plan

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is threatening to ram through a sweeping new land use plan that imposes an environmentalist agenda on the state’s sprawling rural populations — a move that could spark a tax revolt and mass exodus unless it is rewritten, county officials and state legislators told The Daily Caller on Monday.

O’Malley has indicated that he intends to impose what some lawmakers are calling a draconian new environmentalist agenda, known as “Plan Maryland,” through executive order and regulation, rather than through the state legislature, even though his fellow Democrats dominate both chambers.

Plan Maryland’s expensive new mandates for rural home builders will make new residences prohibitively expensive. O’Malley also intends to withhold state funds from new road projects and even new sewage systems if they are proposed outside the “smart growth” boundaries designated by his state planning board.

“As rural legislators and county commissioners, we will do everything we can to stop it through legislative means,” Delegate Kathy Afzali, a Republican from Frederick County told TheDC.

“But if we can’t stop it, we are going to push back. We are going to tell the governor quite simply, we won’t pay for it,” she added. “People are calling for absolute disobedience. We’re not going to take it lying down.”

Republicans often call Maryland a “one-party state” because Democrats control all the levers of power. Democrats can achieve just about anything they want through the state legislature, and count on a Democratic governor to sign it into law.

But there have been limits in the past. During the most recent legislative session, for example, a highly touted bill to legalize same-sex marriage went down in flames after black Democrats balked at the last minute on moral and religious grounds.

Republican opponents of Plan Maryland are hoping O’Malley will take another look at the underlying assumptions of his “smart growth” blueprint. At a conference Monday afternoon in a suburb of Baltimore, they marshaled a host of U.S. and international experts to present data disproving the underlying assumptions of the plan, many of which were rooted in global warming orthodoxy.

The assembled experts argued that the first to suffer from Plan Maryland would be the underprivileged, primarily the urban poor and the aspiring middle class who would see housing prices shoot through the roof.

Representatives from 16 of Maryland’s 24 counties attended Monday’s session.

They were joined by state delegates, state senators, and the head of the state planning commission.

“We believe the issues we have raised here today are legitimate, and that reasonable people would agree that we have impeached the basic premises of the plan,” said Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild, the conference organizer.

“If the premises of the plan are false, the policies derived from those premises are false and the plan cannot promote the general welfare and therefore should not be signed by the Governor,” Rothschild said. “Therefore, we are asking the Governor to reconsider.”

If the plan goes through, he argued, “ironically those who will be hurt the most will probably be the disadvantaged members of our community.”