May 16, 2012

State Roundup, May 16, 2012

Print More

FINAL TAX OK EXPECTED TODAY: Yesterday, the Senate passed, and the House advanced, the state’s first major package of tax increases in five years, but in contrast to their party’s national position, not all of the General Assembly’s Democrats were united on the wisdom of raising taxes on the rich, Aaron Davis writes in the Post.

John Wagner of the Post blogs about how senators votes on the tax bill.

After beating back a series of challenges in the House of Delegates, lawmakers are poised to give final approval today to a plan to raise the state income tax to fund schools, police and Medicaid, Michael Dresser and Annie Linskey report in the Sun.

House Speaker Michael Busch said last night that he expects a majority of delegates to approve the plan, writes Danielle Gaines in the Gazette.

And Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that Busch pointed out that almost all the issues had been thrashed out in the regular session, which ended without action in the House on the two bills substantially similar to those they debated yesterday.

Yesterday, the Maryland Senate voted to raise state income taxes on individuals who make more than $100,000 a year in taxable income and couples who are paid more than $150,000 and to start shifting some teacher pension costs to local governments over four years, according to an AP report in the Frederick News-Post.

Earl Kelly and Pamela Wood of the Capital-Gazette report that the House is expected to convene today at 10 a.m. to give the package final approval, after which the Senate will convene at 12:30 p.m. and the special session will end.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that the special session was called by Gov. Martin O’Malley to avert about $500 million in cuts that were triggered by the General Assembly’s failure to pass a complete budget package during its regular 90-day session last month.

SHORE ‘OUTRAGE:’ Eastern Shore lawmakers expressed their outrage over the tax increases on high earners among others, Daniel Menefee reports for the Chestertown Spy. Menefee’s also got video of both Del. Mike Smiegel and Sen. E.J. Pipkin expressing their outrage.

TRANSPORTATION HANGS: The Sun editorial board opines that as this special session wraps up, for the second time in six weeks, lawmakers will leave Annapolis without having done a thing to address Maryland’s transportation deficit.

BULLY ON PIT BULLS: Pit bull owners and other animal advocates won’t get a chance to overturn a recent Court of Appeals decision labeling the breed as dangerous during the special General Assembly session now under way, but they might get their chance if the legislature reconvenes this summer to consider gambling issues, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun.

Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record blogs that Senate President Mike Miller, while acknowledging his own interest in the pit bull legislation, said the special session was about finishing the budget, and that’s it.

Annapolis resident Stehle Harris is afraid she won’t have a home. The recent court decision also states that landlords can prohibit the dogs from their properties, Nayana Davis reports in Patch.com.

Mike Schuh of WJZ-TV reports on the rally that pit bull advocates held in Annapolis yesterday.

FIGHTING SEPTIC REGS: Since the special session opened on Monday, Sen. David Brinkley has been fighting a proposed regulation that would require builders to install septic systems that are more costly but less polluting, Bethany Rodgers reports in the Frederick News Post.

VOTER TURNOUT: Anticipated statewide referendums on the legalization of same-sex marriage, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and the latest congressional redistricting plan are expected to draw a lot of voters to the polls this November, Lindsey McPherson reports for the Howard County Times. The turn-out for Howard County is expected to be 85%.

STATE PROBE SOUGHT: State lawmakers are demanding an investigation after WBFF-TV cameras caught what appeared to be a state worker collecting a $150 bribe promising to wipe away alleged child support problems, John Rydell reports.

CASINOS AID RACING: Money made from Maryland’s casinos is helping the Maryland horse racing industry. The difference may be apparent this Saturday at the Preakness, reports Kathleen Cairns for WBFF-TV.

UMBC RESIGNATIONS: Reporting in the Sun, Childs Walker writes that two University of Maryland, Baltimore County employees resigned or were fired after a state audit and an internal investigation uncovered about $9,000 in questionable expenditures on their corporate credit cards.

ETHICS LOOPHOLE IN BA CO: In 2011, Baltimore County Councilman Todd Huff attended at least four games, including a trip to Dallas to the Super Bowl with a local shopping center and apartment complex owner, Bryan Sears writes for Patch.com. The games highlight a hole that the State Ethics Commission says exists in legislation passed by the County Council earlier this year that was meant to bring county law substantially into sync with the state ethics law.

EXEC ORDER VOTED DOWN: The Harford County Council unanimously struck down the executive order County Executive David Craig recently issued to create a fire commission, and Council President Billy Boniface warned it set a dangerous precedent, Bryna Zumer reports in the Aegis.

  • GOP Member

    ” the state’s first major package of tax increases in five years”?

    Really?  The 2008 sales tax increase (and disastrous computer services tax) doesn’t count?  The 2008 introduction of a higher rate for “high”(?) incomes doesn’t count?  The alcohol tax increase doesn’t count?  And these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.  The only thing I see different about this one is that because of leadership bungling this one has to occur in a special session where it has the whole spotlight.