TAX ON SERVICES SEEN AS KIRWAN FUNDER: Democratic leaders in the House of Delegates proposed legislation Wednesday night to expand the state’s sales tax to professional services as a way to bring in billions more to pay for the Kirwan Commission’s recommended overhaul of Maryland’s public schools, while cutting the overall rate from 6 cents to 5, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood report in the Sun.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke of Montgomery County said, “Maryland’s sales tax is antiquated. We tax goods and not services, and the economy is on services.”
- The proposal is not expected to sit well with businesses in Maryland that are not currently paying a sales tax, Bryan Sears writes for the Daily Record. Under the 10-page bill, the state’s sales tax would be extended to all services, with the exception of food, medicine, medical services, educational services, social work and nonprofits.
- Luedtke said he was driven to introduce the bill after hearing repeated conversations about revenue strategies among colleagues. After realizing that broadening the sales tax base while reducing the rate could generate additional revenue, he drafted the bill to at least “spark a conversation,” Danielle Gaines reports for Maryland Matters.
PUBLIC CITIZEN FILES ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST HOGAN: The watchdog group Public Citizen filed a complaint Wednesday with the State Ethics Commission, asking it to investigate whether Gov. Larry Hogan has conflicts of interest due to his business deals, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun. Hogan earns income from his real estate business, Annapolis-based HOGAN, which is managed by a trust and run by this brother.
- The main question is whether the governor should have recused himself or disclosed potential conflicts of interest with regard to transportation projects near property owned and developed by his real estate firm owned and developed. The company is run by his brother Timothy Hogan and controlled by a trust managed by current and former executives of the firm, Erin Cox and Steve Thompson of the Post report.
- Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes that the complaint draws heavily on a report in Washington Monthly, published in January under the headline “Who Does Maryland’s Governor Really Work For?” The article focused in part on nearly $60 million in transportation improvements that Hogan included in the budget he submitted to the General Assembly in 2015.
HEARING ON SWEEPING CLIMATE SOLUTIONS ACT: The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the bill Wednesday that would require the state to switch to an all-electric fleet of light-duty cars by 2030. If a new building receives 25% state funding or more, the building would have to be carbon-neutral. And new commercial buildings with more than 20,000 square feet of roof space have to install solar energy systems, Rachael Pacella of the Capital Gazette reports.
- Supporters of the “Climate Solutions Act of 2020” say Maryland, which has about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) of tidal shoreline must be a leader in addressing rising sea levels that threaten the state, Brian Witte of the AP reports.
HOGAN TO ‘PHASE OUT’ CHLORPYRIFOS: Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration said Wednesday it is moving to “phase out” the use of chlorpyrifos, a harmful pesticide used on food crops. But, Scott Dance writes for the Sun, advocates of the legislation — who for the third year are pushing for a state law banning chlorpyrifos — accused the governor of attempting to block the legislation.
DEL. WILSON SEEKS MORE TIME FOR CHILD SEX ABUSE SUITS: Today Del. C.T. Wilson will urge his colleagues in Annapolis yet again to give victims of child sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers and any institutions that failed to stop the abuse, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
EXPANSION SOUGHT OF INDECENT EXPOSURE LAW: Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery, said on Wednesday that Maryland’s indecent exposure laws must be expanded to include touching oneself sexually in public while fully clothed, Bryan Renbaum writes in MarylandReporter.
CLEARING THE RECORDS: The Maryland General Assembly will again grapple with the practicality and the implications of allowing individuals to remove non-convictions from their records, with advocates continuing to push for an expansion of the state’s expungement law, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports.
BILL WOULD BAN ‘LUNCH SHAMING:’ Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Howard) has introduced legislation, Senate Bill 760, that would ban the practice known as “lunch shaming” in Maryland public schools, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports. An identical House bill sponsored by Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s) is slated to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee later this month.
DEL. PARROTT ATTACKS NEEDLE EXCHANGE: Effective disease deterrent or invitation to drug abuse? Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail writes that the Maryland Health Department’s Harm Reduction Program, which provides clean needles and other items to drug users, is under fire from Republican state Del. Neil Parrott, who’s trying to get Washington County exempted from the program because he believes it “sends the wrong message.”
OPINION: JAILHOUSE INFORMANTS: The editorial board for the Sun opines that jailhouse “informants can be powerful witnesses in helping to make a difficult case, but too often, those with questionable motives and a loose relationship with the truth have been given way too much influence over criminal cases — and the fate of people’s lives. Their false finger pointing and outright lies have resulted in innocent people winding up in prison, or, in the worst cases, sentenced to death row.”
HAGERSTOWN AIRPORT TO GET $1 MILLION: Two Maryland airports will get $1.3 million in federal funds to help improve safety and infrastructure at their facilities, Dana Hedgpeth reports in the Post. The $1.3 million will be divided between two facilities. Hagerstown Regional Airport in Washington County will receive $1 million, which will be used to pay for a terminal building and expansion. Tipton Airport, near Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, will receive $300,000 to fund the expansion of an area to park aircraft.
TRONE QUESTIONS DOD ON WITHHOLDING FT. DETRICK LAB FUNDS: Rep. David Trone, D-Md., spent Wednesday afternoon touring Fort Detrick in light of concerns about the Department of Defense withholding funding from two military labs, Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News-Post reports. Trone and others in Maryland’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the defense secretary questioning the decision to withhold approximately $104 million from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick and the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground.