SERVICES TAX WOULD GENERATE $3.7B IN 5 YEARS: Expanding Maryland’s sales tax to most services would generate more than $3.7 billion in new taxes in five years, according to the fiscal analysis released on the eve of a bill hearing expected to draw crowds to Annapolis on Monday, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports.
- With Maryland lawmakers considering significant changes to the state’s sales tax in hopes of drumming up money to implement reforms in public schools, Pamela Wood of the Sun explains how the proposal to expand the sales to services would work. Day care and child care would continue to be exempt from the sales tax as would many other services.
OPINION: SERVICES TAX A BURDEN ON BUSINESS: Chris Tomlinson of the Carroll County Times opines that the proposed tax on services to pay for Kirwan will put a new burden on the shoulders of Maryland business owners, both big and small, who will now have to collect and report sales taxes. For most small businesses, this will result in higher operating costs and the need to hire accountants and other professionals.
OPINION: CONGRESS NEEDS TO HELP FUND EDUCATION: The Maryland General Assembly is stepping up in a big way with their visionary legislation to implement the recommendations of the state’s Kirwan Commission on improving education through increased funding and holding schools accountable for results, opines U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Every year, Congress falls a whopping $33 billion short on Title I and $20 billion short on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. But there is legislation to fix this.
HOGAN FUND TO AIR ADS AGAINST DEM LAWMAKERS: Armed with $1.1 million in donations, Gov. Larry Hogan’s political lobbying organization on Friday announced it would begin airing negative television ads against Democrats in the General Assembly over crime and taxes, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.
- The ads, which will appear online as well as on cable and broadcast television, encourage residents to call lawmakers — and urge them to either pass Hogan’s proposals to combat crime in Baltimore or reject a plan to broaden the sales tax to generate money for a broad education overhaul being pushed by Democratic leaders, Erin Cox of the Post reports.
MARYLAND ACTS ON COVID-19: A flu outbreak sickened 82 people aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that returned to Baltimore last week, prompting the cruise line to isolate them and notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but none of the sick passengers and crew met the criteria for the coronavirus, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman confirmed Friday.
- The University of Maryland and Towson University have suspended study-abroad programs in Italy and told students to return home after the CDC raised its coronavirus warning level Friday night to limit travel in that country, Lorraine Mirabella reports for the Sun.
- In response to COVID-19, Ports America Chesapeake said Friday it will reduce operating hours at the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal, which it operates through a public-private partnership with the Maryland Port Administration. Ethan McLeod writes the story for the Baltimore Business Journal.
- Baltimore County business owners told U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen they are concerned about the impact of the novel coronavirus as the disease continues to spread across the world. The business owners said they are worried restaurants, stores and other small businesses will be hurt if people are afraid to leave their homes, Holden Wilen writes in the Baltimore Business Journal.
- Should a person in Frederick County contract the new coronavirus, both Frederick Health Hospital and the Frederick County Health Department are ready and prepared to respond, Heather Mongilio of the Frederick News-Post reports.
- As the new coronavirus makes inroads in the United States, officials are pointing to the kind of preparation that most Marylanders undertake when preparing for a big snowstorm: Stock up on toilet paper, non-perishable human and pet food, and needed medications, Baltimore Sun staff is reporting.
PATIENT DEBT HELP BILLS: A pair of bills aimed at providing protections for hospital patients struggling with medical debt was heard in the House Health and Government Operations Committee Friday. Del. Robbyn Lewis (D-Baltimore City) said before the committee that over 145,000 lawsuits were filed between 2009 and 2018 by hospitals against their patients for unpaid medical bills, with more than 3,000 cases resulting in bankruptcy, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.
- The bills’ supporters have urged that changes to the debt collection practices of Maryland hospitals take place as soon as possible, but the hospitals are asking that the issue be studied first, citing potential complications, Tim Curtis reports in the Daily Record.
SENATORS KEEP NAME OF CANNABIS COMMISSION: State senators were faced Friday with an unusually difficult vote on a proposed amendment that would have changed the title of the state’s medical cannabis commission because it is named for the mother of a disgraced state delegate, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
JUDICIARY SEEKS CHANGE IN FILING COURT DOCS: A Maryland Judiciary panel wants to change the rules on filing court documents in secret, with its chairman saying practices that came to light during the Capital Gazette murder trial were “plain unlawful,” reports the Capital Gazette’s Alex Mann.
FREDERICK BIZ UNSURE ON FAMILY LEAVE PLAN: A bill in the state Senate would require employers to provide a new form of insurance for family leave for their employees, Erika Riley of the Frederick News-Post reports. But Frederick area business owners are unsure if that is a positive development.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE BILLS: Lawmakers considered myriad campaign finance bills Thursday afternoon, including an attempt to repeal a decade-old Prince George’s County ban on developer contributions, a law to expand the state’s public financing program and a measure to add enforcement positions to the State Board of Elections, Samantha Hawkins of Maryland Matters reports.
B’MORE MAYOR HOPEFULS: WHAT’S IN THEIR TAX RETURNS? With two months to go before Baltimore’s mayoral primary, roughly half the major Democratic candidates have yet to release their tax returns, Talia Richman writes in the Sun. What do the returns that have been released show?
FREDERICK TOUTS ELECTRIC BUS FLEET: Frederick County officials had the opportunity to show off their electric bus fleet and solar array at the county landfill to members of Congress from Maryland and Washington state on Friday afternoon, touring the transit center and solar array as they showed how the county has incorporated electric energy from that array into its bus fleet, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports.
TRUMP TO NAME KENDEL EHRLICH TO POST: President Trump plans to appoint Kendel Ehrlich, wife of former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, to lead the federal Office of Sex Offenders, Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking, WBFF-TV reports.
- The former first lady of Maryland would lead the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to monitor, apprehend and track sex offenders, Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports.