July 27, 2011

State Roundup, July 27, 2011

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ANTI-GAY IRONY: Political science professor Thomas Schaller writes in an op-ed for the Sun that it is particularly and sadly ironic that Del. Emmett Burns is proud that the anti-gay marriage position comes from the church pews, given that black ministers five decades ago provided the civil rights movement so much of its moral authority.

SERVICE, INTERNET SALES TAX: A Senate committee yesterday listened to the pros and cons of expanding Maryland’s sales tax base to include more services, as well as goods purchased over the Internet, blogs Julie Bykowicz for the Sun. The Department of Legislative Services concluded that taxing engineering services, cable television, automobile repair, golf and other matters could bring in at least $1 billion a year, while Internet sales could add another $184 million.

Keith Daniels of WBFF-TV reports that taxes on snack foods are also a possibility.

Business leaders and lobbyists came out with guns blazing as if the possibility of taxing a wide array of services was a clear and present danger that needed to be shot down, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

But state senators assured lobbyists and business group leaders it was all in the name of preparation — not a signal of a coming policy shift, Scott Dance reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

DEBT CEILING CRISIS: While the federal debt crisis continues to threaten Maryland’s prized AAA bond rating, the state is set to sell more than $600 million in bonds beginning today, blogs Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. The triple-A rating for that will stand.

State legislators were told that no matter what the federal government does concerning the debt ceiling crisis, Maryland and every state are likely to suffer cutbacks, the Sun’s Julie Bykowicz writes.

Nearly half of Maryland’s Medicaid budget is paid for with federal money. And nearly half of its $9.1 billion in federal funding is directed to the health care program for the poor, Hayley Peterson reports for the Washington Examiner.
Writing in the Frederick News Post, columnist Marta Mossburg says that Maryland needs to wake up to the fact that its favored status as a benefactor of federal jobs and spending is about to change and it needs to create many more jobs to generate new taxes to fill the gap.

Scroll down to the Tuesday, July 26, section to listen to Midday with Dan Rodricks, the noon to 1 p.m. segment on the debt ceiling crisis with U.S. Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Dutch Ruppersberger.

HARRIS STICKS TO GUNS: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, who as a first-term Republican is part of a bloc of lawmakers who may ultimately decide the fate of the debt ceiling debate, reiterated that he will not support raising the limit unless a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget is included, blogs John Fritze for the Sun.

BARLETT STAND DRAWS FIRE: U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is supporting a plan by House Speaker John Boehner that would result in spending cuts and budget reforms, with no tax increases, reports Stephanie Mlot for the Frederick News Post. It’s a stand that drew protesters to his Frederick office yesterday.

TIGHTER CONTROLS: Prince George’s County’s liquor board gave the preliminary nod to new rules governing alcohol delivery that require the deliverer be at least 18, compel the business owner to record the names of people receiving deliveries and require a close check of identification of the purchaser and the recipient. Deliveries to colleges, fraternities and sororities would not be allowed, reports Miranda Spivack for the Post.

The Gazette’s Daniel Valentine reports that store owners at the liquor board hearing emphasized that the deliveries are rare in the county.

COMPACT PG DISTRICTS: Prince George’s pols are seeking compact districts during the upcoming redistricting process, blogs Annie Linskey of the Sun.

COP AT COUNCIL: Howard County Council meetings now have a permanent security fixture – an armed county police officer, writes Kellie Woodhouse for the Howard County Times.