House votes to cut taxes on the wealthiest dead

The House of Delegates overwhelmingly approved a tax cut in Friday’s session that would benefit Maryland’s millionaires after they die.

In a 120-13 vote, the House voted to exempt more assets from the estate tax, which taxes a property of a deceased individual if it’s valued at $1 million.

Assembly leaders back cutting estate taxes, but opponents knock break for wealthy

General Assembly leaders say they are fearful wealthy Maryland residents are moving out of state because of Maryland’s high estate tax and are promoting legislation that would cut the “death tax”

Maryland imposes a tax when property is transferred from the deceased to a living relative, if that property is valued at more than $1 million — the tax caps at 16% of the entire estate.

Rascovar column: Do-gooders know best about wages

Raising the minimum wage is all the rage among liberal Democrats and liberal advocacy groups. Listening to them it’s clear a much higher minimum will dramatically close the income inequity gap. Columnist Barry Rascovar explores the downside of upping the minimum wage, and offers a better alternative.

Staff tells legislators to keep current lid on state debt

The legislature’s fiscal staff told lawmakers Thursday that they should not follow an O’Malley administration proposal to increase Maryland’s authorized debt by $375 million over the next five years.

The staff said this is one way to reduce debt service — payments of principal and interest on the state’s bonds — that will grow by 24% in those five years. It would be the largest increase in any budget category.

Speaker Busch ‘did not like redistricting’ either; Tea Party upset at GOP ‘establishment,’ Boehner

Lots of people in Maryland, particularly Republicans and minorities, didn’t like Maryland’s congressional redistricting in 2012 that helped eliminate one of the last two GOP seats and did not create another potential minority district.

But during a talk Friday night, one of the major participants in the process, House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch admitted, “I did not like the redistricting.”

Business group gives low marks to many Md. lawmakers, mostly Democrats

A Maryland business group rating state lawmakers in its annual scorecard gave low marks to the two Democrats leading the Maryland General Assembly, typifying how business organizations view the legislature as a whole. Maryland Business for Responsive Government gave House Speaker Michael Busch a 29% in 2013, and Senate President Mike Miller fared slightly better at 40%.

Fully transparent State House still has a way to go

It was not a great week for openness and transparency at the State House. Perhaps it is more accurate to say it was business as usual in Annapolis, with a few events reminding us that while much of the public business has become remarkably accessible over the Internet, much of it still happens behind closed doors.