December 29, 2010

State Roundup, December 29, 2010

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TAX HIKES: Progressive groups and legislators are aiming to raise state taxes on millionaires, corporations, liquor, gasoline and a broad array of consumer services, as well as boosting the state minimum wage to $10 an hour to help protect government services and the incomes of “working families,” reports Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

The Sun’s Julie Bykowicz blogs that Neil Bergsman, of the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute, said, “We’re concerned about trying to balance the budget on cuts alone.”

Read what viewers of WBAL-TV think about whether Maryland should raise its minimum wage from $7.25 an hour.

PROPERTY VALUE PLUNGE: Maryland homeowners will see property values plunge 22% on average in the latest round of state assessments — a record drop that won’t necessarily translate into lower taxes, reports Jamie Smith Hopkins for the Sun.

Frederick County properties have dropped by more than 24% in value over the past three years, Meg Tully writes for the Frederick News Post.

Properties in the northwestern third of Anne Arundel County assessed for the 2011 tax year dipped 16.6% in value since the last evaluation, reports Allison Bourg of the Annapolis Capital.

Here’s John Rydell’s report for WBFF-TV.

WBAL-TV reports that some property taxes may actually rise. Scroll down to see the property tax changes in a number of jurisdictions.

Hagerstown property assessments dropped 18.3%, while all of Washington County saw a 18.4%, Andrew Schotz reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

RNC DEBATE: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has confirmed that he will attend an early January debate, putting the embattled chairman on track for his first public face-off with his rivals as he pursues a second term at the helm of the committee, Felicia Sonmez reports for the Post.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: State Sen. David R. Brinkley of New Market, the Senate’s minority leader, isn’t convinced that same-sex marriage is sure to pass the Maryland legislature this year, reports the Gazette’s Sherry Greenfield.

DREAM ACT: An incoming state senator from Prince George’s County said yesterday he plans to introduce legislation to give in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants who have attended state high schools, according to Julie Bykowicz of the Sun.

BIZ TAX PAYMENTS: Among his priorities in Annapolis, state Del. Donald Elliott is hoping to expand on a bill he ushered through last year that allows small businesses the option of paying property taxes in two installments. He’d like the law to cover all businesses, Meg Tully reports for the Frederick News Post.

ENTHUSIASM NEEDED: Frederick News Post editorial writers say that incoming freshman Del. Kathy Afzali has compiled an overly ambitious legislative to-do list. Most probably won’t see the light of day, but let’s hope she retains her enthusiasm.

BROCHIN MEETING: State Sen. Jim Brochin, of the 42nd District, will host a town hall meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 12 focusing on area crime, according to the Towson Times.

POLLITT REPORT: Greg Latshaw of the Salisbury Daily Times recaps Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt’s upbeat “Report to the People,” which replaced his State of the County report following bad weather.

Here’s Pollitt’s 24-page report.

EPA BILL WORRIES: Some Carroll County officials are worried about who will foot the bill for new pollution limits that the Environmental Protection Agency will set this week in an effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, Caroline Hailey reports for the Carroll County Times.

SNOWDEN HEARING: A hearing is set for Jan. 13 to consider a prosecutor’s request to correct an illegal Probation Before Judgment sentence against Carl Snowden for a second drunken driving charge as well as Snowden’s argument against vacating that 2nd PBJ, the Sun’s Andrea Siegel reports.