State Roundup: Tax hikes for the rich?; property assessments are up too

State Roundup: Tax hikes for the rich?; property assessments are up too

Happy New Year! Baltimore Inner Harbor fireworks New Year's 2017 by Patrick Gillespie with Flickr Creative Commons License. This is a cropped version of the full panorama at https://www.flickr.com/photos/40423570@N07/31982194086/sizes/6k/

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This is the 250th and final State Roundup of 2023. We’ve done 3,500 of these roundups since we started 14 years ago — Keeping you up to date with news you can use as you start your day. There are just two days left in our annual matching grant campaign. Thanks to the hundreds of donors who contributed so far. Please click here if you’d like to contribute a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit news site and help us keep the news coming every day. Or send a check to Maryland Reporter, 6392 Shadowshape Place, Columbia, MD 21045.

TAX HIKES FOR THE RICH?: Maryland lawmakers grappling with multibillion-dollar budget shortfalls are weighing proposals to tax the rich. Levying a “millionaire’s tax,” targeting capital gains income from stock market earnings and broadening the estate tax are among many varied ideas under consideration to raise money for transportation and education, according to several leading Democratic lawmakers. “Everything is broadly on the table,” said Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chair Guy Guzzone, D-Howard. “I don’t think anything’s off the table,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chair Vanessa Atterbeary, D-Howard. “This is the session to do something if we’re going to do it,” she said of January’s General Assembly session.. Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post

Ovetta Wiggins, a longtime State House reporter for The Washington Post whose byline has appeared many times in our daily State Roundup, including today’s, announced on X (Twitter) that she is taking a buyout and leaving the Post this week. She was among hundreds of staff members offered buyouts at the paper to avoid layoffs. Maryland Reporter

PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS RISE 23%: Maryland tax officials are reporting a more than 23% overall increase in property values since the 2021 reassessment, a spike that reflects a strong housing market but will also mean higher property tax bills for many homeowners, even with local tax caps designed to cushion the impact. While Maryland has seen a continuous uptick in values since 2014, this review showed the highest overall statewide value increase recorded in the last decade, according to Maryland archival data. It’s also the second time in two years that the overall reassessment value has gone up by more than 20%. Hallie Miller/Baltimore Banner

CONFRONTING RACISM AT FORMER CROWNSVILLE HOSPITAL: The patients of the Crownsville Hospital, which treated African Americans transferred from correctional facilities and charitable residences, didn’t have relatives to bury them, so the hospital started its own anonymous mass grave. For nearly two decades, Janice Hayes-Williams, an Anne Arundel County historian, has dedicated herself to identifying the former patients and bringing attention to their lives. Once called the “Hospital for the Negro Insane” in Maryland, it gained notoriety for its severe mishandling and mistreatment of patients. Royale Bonds/Baltimore Banner

NURSING BOARD HAS BACKLOG OF 6,200 COMPLAINTS: The Maryland Board of Nursing has a backlog of over 6,200 unresolved complaints filed about some of the nearly 115,000 nurses and tens of thousands of other care providers the board oversees. A Washington Post review of board meeting transcripts, annual reports, a legislative audit and other records reveals the Board of Nursing has struggled for years to perform its two most critical functions: issuing licenses and investigating complaints. The board’s failure to investigate complaints means that nurses, midwives and others accused of harmful behavior may continue to practice for months or even years until the board decides their cases. Amy Brittain/The Washington Post

BAY PROGRAM TURNS 40 SHOWING MIXED RESULTS: Two of the most experienced journalists covering the Chesapeake Bay for decades assess the Chesapeake Bay Program on its 40th anniversary. At times in the following decades, the partnership between the states and the federal government was heralded as a model for ecosystem restoration. At other times, it was derided as antiquated and ineffective. It has been a leader in estuarine science but has often struggled to mitigate the negative impacts of a rapidly growing population on the Bay’s 64,000-square-mile watershed. Karl Blankenship & Timothy B. Wheeler/Bay Journal in Maryland Reporter.

 NEW PLAN TO REDUCE MD. GREENHOUSE GASES: To achieve Maryland’s mandated greenhouse gas emission reductions over the next eight years, state officials will seek to implement a suite of new policies — and come up with about $1 billion per year in extra funding — according to a new plan released Thursday by the Maryland Department of the Environment. The document is the state’s blueprint for reducing its output of globe-warming emissions 60% (based on 2006 levels) by 2031, a target set by the General Assembly. Christine Condon/Baltimore Sun

  • The state is about halfway to the 2031 goal, and programs now in place will get the state most of the way to the 60% reduction goal. But there’s a gap that needs to be met through additional programs and policies. Pamela Wood/Baltimore Banner

HELPING PARENTS PAY CHILD SUPPORT: For nearly 20 years, Judge John Hennegan has led a program in Baltimore County that seeks to apply an intuitive solution to the problem of parents who don’t pay what they owe in child support: helping “noncustodial parents” stabilize their lives and get jobs that pay well enough that they can meet their obligations. Cassidy Jensen/Baltimore Sun

 STATE HOUSE MONUMENT TO HONOR BLACK SOLDIERS: A new monument honoring Black Revolutionary War soldiers is being planned for the Maryland State House grounds. The monument will be the State House Trust contribution to the state’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States. Planning and an exact timeline for the project are in the initial stages. There is no final design and artists have yet to be solicited. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters

DEFENSE BILL PROTECTS 230-ACRE FOREST NEAR ANNAPOLIS: The $886 billion national defense bill signed by President Biden on Friday contains some notable fine print for Maryland nature buffs. Three members of the state’s congressional delegation inserted language into the bill blocking the U.S. Navy from permanently restricting public access to Greenbury Point. The property, a forested 230-acre peninsula jutting into the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, has served as a popular destination for birders and hikers for more than two decades. Jeremy Cox/Bay Journal in Maryland Reporter.

 LOBBYISTS REPRESENT FOSSIL FUEL INTERESTS AND GREEN GROUPS TOO: A new national climate advocacy group  called F Minus is compiling state lobbying firms that represent fossil fuel clients — and the governments, clean energy companies, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that also hire them. Certain lobbying firms can represent entities that support climate action and the development of clean energy while also representing polluters. And that some of the “green” groups or institutions hire lobbyists who also represent fossil fuel companies. The advocacy group found that as of Dec. 4, at least 42 Maryland lobbyists were registered to represent fossil fuel interests, including most of the top earning lobbyists in the state in the previous year. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters

BLACK TEACHERS LEAVE AT HIGHER RATES: Black teachers leave their schools at higher rates than teachers of any other race in all but one Maryland school district. They’re also underrepresented in school systems. Research has shown Black students are more likely to graduate and go to college if they have a Black teacher, yet thousands don’t have one at all. In interviews with more than a dozen current and former Black educators from six Maryland school districts, The Baltimore Banner found they most often leave because of an expensive and confusing certification process, a lack of mentorship and growth opportunities, and schools with little to no colleagues they can relate to — other Black teachers. Kristen Griffith/Baltimore Banner

MARILYN MOSBY COULD LOSE LAW LICENSE: Maryland’s bar counsel, which investigates wrongdoing by attorneys, has moved to suspend former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s law license. Thomas M. DeGonia, the state’s recently appointed bar counsel, cited Mosby’s November perjury convictions in a petition asking the Supreme Court of Maryland to temporarily suspend her license. Alex Mann/Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE MAYOR, FIANCÉE HAVE BABY: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and fiancée Hana Pugh announced the birth of their son, Charm Jamie Scott, born Tuesday. Emily Opilo at the Sun provides more background on the couple.

COUPLE SOLICIT GIFTS FOR NEW BABY: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and his fiancée, Hana Pugh, have set up an online baby registry, requesting more than 400 items – among them cash and gift cards – from the public on behalf of their newborn son. The list of items at Babylist for Charm Jamie Scott, who was born last night, includes $50 gift cards from Amazon and Target as well as $50 cash gifts. Mark Reutter/Baltimore Brew

HIGHER TRAFFIC FINES SOUGHT FOR DEADLY PG HIGHWAY: Members of the 210 Traffic Safety Committee, joined Prince George’s County and state leaders and residents on Wednesday to once again push for a safer Route 210, also known as Indian Head Highway — one of the deadliest highways in the Washington area. This time, they are advocating legislation that would increase the electronic speed monitoring fine, which is currently limited to $40. Next year’s coming legislative session will mark the third consecutive year the bill will be introduced in the Maryland General Assembly. Jasmine Hilton/The Washington Post in the Baltimore Sun. (The papers have a content sharing agreement on local news.)

PROTECTING JUDGES ON LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: This year, the first Maryland Senate bill was about guns. Next year, the chair of the committee that brought that law is planning to start with something different to promote public safety: legislation protecting judges. “Ensuring that our judges are safe also ensures that the legal process plays out in a fair and impartial manner,” said Sen. William Smith, Jr., D-Montgomery County, chair of the judicial proceedings committee, “It’s fundamental to the operation and the function of the judiciary.” A Hagerstown Judge Andrew Wilkinson was murdered earlier this year. Dwight Weingarten/Hagerstown Hearld-Mail.

 PG DELEGATE NOMINATED: The Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee selected Denise Roberts on Thursday to fill a vacant seat in the House of Delegates. The central committee will forward Roberts’ name to Gov. Wes Moore, who has up to 15 days to confirm the appointment. Roberts, who worked as communications director for county State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy (D), received 19 of the 26 votes from her fellow county Democrats. Five other Democratic challengers sought the vacant seat, including former Del. Angela Angel, who turned 44 years old on Tuesday but didn’t receive a vote. Roberts will replace Del. Nick Charles, who was named to the state Senate, replacing Sen. Melony Griffith. William Ford/Maryland Matters

 5 APPLY FOR WASHINGTON CO. JUDGESHIP: Five people have applied for the Washington County Circuit Court judgeship left vacant with the recent death of Judge Andrew F. Wilkinson. The governor is to appoint someone to the bench before the Feb. 9 candidacy deadline for the 2024 election. The recently appointed Washington County Trial Court Judicial Nominating Commission will interview candidates, nominating finalists for the governor to consider. Julie Greene/Hagerstown Herald-Mail

LONGTIME BALTIMORE COUNCIL MEMBER : Agnes Welch, a former member of the Baltimore City Council from West Baltimore, died Tuesday at University of Maryland Medical Center. She was 99 and lived for more than 65 years on West Mosher Street in the Rosemont section of West Baltimore. Ms. Welch represented West and Southwest Baltimore for 27 years, including the Poppleton, Rosemont and Sandtown neighborhoods. “Agnes was a savvy old-school council member,” said former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. “Constituent service was her real joy.” Jacques Kelly/Baltimore Sun

About The Author

Len Lazarick

len@marylandreporter.com

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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