September 11, 2013

State Roundup, September 11, 2013

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MARGINAL TAX RATE: According to data from a new report from The Tax Foundation, Maryland has the 7th highest marginal tax rates for sole proprietorships and S corporations. Marginal tax rates represent the tax paid on the next dollar of additional income. As an individual’s or business’ income rises, so does their marginal tax rate, writes Mark Newgent for Watchdog Wire.com

WAGE HIKE V TAX CUT: Tom Coale of HoCoRising.com writes that as Maryland moves closer to the next General Session this winter, we should get a better idea about what compromise, if any, may be struck in Annapolis between the seemingly disparate policy proposals of raising the minimum wage and lowering the corporate tax rate.  While no bill has been drafted, early discussions have suggested that a raise in the minimum wage be tied to lowering corporate taxes as a compromise.

In Montgomery County, one councilman says he will introduce a bill to nearly double the county’s minimum wage, with or without co-sponsors, reports Kate Alexander in the Gazette. Seeking to close the gap between the county’s high cost of living and actual wages, Councilman Marc Elrich is drafting legislation that increases the county minimum wage from the federally mandated $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour.

TIMEOUT ON TAX CHANGES: Comptroller Peter Franchot says state officials need to take a timeout for a few years on changing the tax code, raising taxes and changing regulations, all of which combine to hurt Maryland’s business climate, reports Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times News.

GUN PRIVACY COMPLAINTS: Pro-gun advocates are complaining that state police have enlisted the help of several dozen state employees from other agencies to speed the process. Specifically, the police have transferred applications to encrypted disks and shipped them to state agencies where data entry clerks can enter names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of applicants into the state police database As police have pointed out, these clerks routinely enter the exact same information for their departments, opines the editorial board for the Sun.

SHORE LOSES BUSINESS: Meg Tully of MarylandReporter.com reports that between 2007 and 2011, Maryland’s nine Eastern Shore counties averaged a loss of 11% of its business establishments employing people. Statewide, the loss was much less, declining 5.7%. Since 2000, the state of Maryland has actually gained businesses by about 4%, but the Eastern Shore is lagging with a gain of less than 1%.

COMMON CORE DEBATE: Frederick County opponents of Common Core hosted a town hall on Tuesday to raise awareness of what many called dangerous and poorly designed state curriculum standards, reports Rachel Karas for the Frederick News-Post.

O’MALLEY TAKES STAGE: Gov. Martin O’Malley and Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas congressman seen as a rising star in Democratic circles, will share a stage Thursday night at an annual fundraiser for Maryland’s party faithful.

O’MALLEY’S CHOICE: It’s now up to Gov. Martin O’Malley to choose between the two candidates who want to succeed former Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Upper Shore, who resigned last month. A spokesman for the governor’s office said O’Malley has 15 days from Sept. 10 to decide between Del. Steve Hershey and Del. Michael Smigiel, according to the Easton Star Democrat. Sept. 10 was the deadline for the Republican Central Committees in the four  District 36 counties to submit the name of their candidate.

FELDMAN CHOSEN FOR SENATE: The process was more united in Montgomery County where the Democratic Central Committee unanimously voted to send Del. Brian Feldman’s name to the governor to replace Sen. Rob Garagiola, according to the press release reprinted in Maryland Juice.

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FROSH FILES FOR ATTY GEN: State Sen. Brian Frosh on Tuesday became the first candidate to officially file as a candidate for attorney general in next year’s election, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

MIZEUR & JUVENILE JUSTICE: In an op-ed for the Sun, in which she endorses Del. Heather Mizeur for governor, Sonja Sohn writes that, in a summer filled with stories of jailhouse corruption and deadly violence afflicting Baltimore City, many in the advocacy community are asking which candidate for governor will show the strongest commitment to meaningful criminal and juvenile justice reforms, We are eager to see politicians who will do more than pay lip service to the topic, and we are beginning to see signs of life.

WHAT’S IN A NICKNAME? Maryland Juice writes about a recent controversy over Attorney General Doug Gansler’s campaign manager’s nickname. Gansler is running for governor. And one Virginia political operative is accusing Gansler’s political operative of stealing his nickname. Juice quotes from the Roanoke Times.

BROWN ENDORSED: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown on Tuesday picked up an endorsement of his 2014 gubernatorial bid from the Maryland chapter of a plumbers and pipefitters union, reports John Wagner of the Post.

CROWDED DISTRICT 12 RACE: The three open delegate seats in legislative District 12 that runs from Arbutus to West Columbia continue to attract more candidates than any district in the state, with seven Democrats currently running, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. Former Del. Mike Gisriel, an Annapolis lobbyist, filed Wednesday and Renée McGuirk-Spence, longtime government affairs director for the Maryland State Department of Education, filed her papers Tuesday.

Michael Dresser profiles Renée McGuirk-Spence for the Sun.

HARRIS SAYS NO TO SYRIA ACTION: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris says he has decided not to support military force in Syria, if the matter is brought before Congress for a vote, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

MOCO PANHANDLING: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, County Councilman George Leventhal and other officials announced an initiative to discourage drivers and other county residents from giving money to panhandlers and instead direct their money toward county programs that work with the poor and homeless, writes Ryan Marshall in the Gazette.

Bill Turque writes about Montgomery County’s efforts for the Post.

PG CORRUPTION WEEDER: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker on Tuesday named Robin Barnes-Shell, 51, a lawyer with a long history of public service, to lead a newly created ethics office that Baker formed to help weed out corruption, Luz Lazo reports for the Post.

CHARLES TRANSIT PLANS: The Charles County commissioners voted Tuesday afternoon to send Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Smith a rebuttal to his Aug. 23 letter suggesting that the county’s draft comprehensive plan could endanger funding for future transit projects, reports Jeff Newman for the Gazette.