State Roundup: Mailing snafu could imperil county budgets; transgender inmates mis-housed by state; season ticketholders push back against scalping legislation

State Roundup: Mailing snafu could imperil county budgets; transgender inmates mis-housed by state; season ticketholders push back against scalping legislation

About 107,000 property tax notices failed to go out in time, which could cause problems for county governments as they prepare their budgets. Photo by Maximillian Conacher on Unsplash

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MAILING SNAFU MAY FORCE COUNTY GOVERNMENTS TO SCRAMBLE FOR TAX REVENUE: A printing error is causing state officials to scramble to make sure local governments can collect all the property taxes they need to fund schools, police and other services in their budgets. More than 100,000 Maryland property owners did not receive written notices of their new estimated home values by a Jan. 30 deadline, an error that if left unaddressed could have major ripple effects on county budgets. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

  • The State Department of Assessments and Taxation failed to mail about 107,000 updated property tax assessments before the deadline at the end of last year, according to senior state lawmakers. Left unfixed, county governments might receive a quarter of a billion dollars less in anticipated property tax revenue over a three-year period. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

STATE STILL MIS-HOUSING TRANSGENDER INMATES: Nearly a year after formerly incarcerated transgender people testified to Maryland lawmakers about the troubling conditions they faced in state prisons and Baltimore jails, the agency in charge of their care continues to violate federal standards in how it houses trans prisoners, according to a coalition of trans rights advocates. Ben Conarck/The Baltimore Banner.

SEASON TICKET HOLDERS PUSH BACK AGAINST ANTI-SCALPING BILL: Season ticket holders are pushing back against an anti-scalping bill in the General Assembly they say would harm their right to transfer tickets and make a profit when they miss a game. The bill – which calls for greater transparency in ticket pricing and restricts the secondary market – has sparked the most debate in its provisions regarding resale, especially when it comes to ticket packages, like season tickets for sports games. Angelique Gingras of Capital News Service/MarylandReporter.com.

SMALL BIZ GRANTS OFFERED BY STATE: Small businesses and economic development organizations have the chance to receive a big financial boost thanks to $10 million in grants announced by Gov. Wes Moore through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Aliza Worthington/Baltimore Fishbowl.

ANTI-CENSORSHIP BILL GETS HEARING: A bill that proposes to protect library books, reading materials and other resources from would-be censors received a long and at times dramatic first public hearing Wednesday. The Freedom to Read Act stands atop a “decency agenda” championed by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), which has become part of a national conversation on what literary material is being made available in public schools and public libraries. William Ford/Maryland Matters.

NO ENDORSEMENT FROM RASKIN, BUT HE SHOWS UP FOR ALSOBROOKS: With three months until the May 14 primary, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park has been alone among the seven Democrats in the Maryland House delegation in not offering an endorsement in the race for the party’s nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin. And that remains his stance — notwithstanding a surprise appearance Sunday at a field office of Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, at which Raskin addressed volunteers at a pep rally as they prepared to go out campaigning on Alsobrooks’ behalf. Louis Peck/MoCo 360.

HOYER, RUPPERSBERGER BACK OLSZEWSKI FOR U.S. HOUSE SEAT: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Wednesday picked up endorsements from two longtime members of Congress in his race for Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District seat: U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th District and has served in the House of Representatives for more than 40 years, and 2nd District U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, who has been in Congress for 21 years. John Lee/WYPR-FM.

  • Hoyer and Ruppersberger both said they’ve known Olszewski for decades, and that he was the right candidate to send to Congress. Cody Boteler/The Baltimore Banner.

U.S. LAWMAKERS SEEK CONGRESSIONAL HONORS FOR ABOLITIONISTS: Federal lawmakers are calling on Congress to bestow its highest honor on Frederick Douglass, among several Marylanders posthumously attracting national recognition this year for their abolitionist work. Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Banner.

B’MORE GETS $1.2M FROM LAWSUIT AGAINST GHOST GUN MAKER: Baltimore City will receive $1.2 million in a settlement of a lawsuit against Polymer80, the nation’s largest company that sells “ghost guns” or untraceable “build your own firearm” assembly kits. Emily Hofstaedter/WYPR-FM.

  • In 2022, Mayor Brandon Scott’s office filed a lawsuit against Polymer80 and a Hanover gun store, claiming they had flooded city streets with the illicit weapons, creating a public nuisance. The suit against the gun store, Hanover Armory, remains pending. Lee O. Sanderlin/The Baltimore Banner.

MAYOR SCOTT ENTERED INTO SECRET CONTRACTS TO RUN SEWER PLANT: During the last two years, the Scott administration paid – without public notice or Board of Estimates approval – roughly $13 million to private consultants to run the new Headworks facility at the Back River sewage plant in Dundalk. Then last September, a second private company was hired to run the plant’s biosolids equipment for $50 million, with “costs not to exceed $100 million” over eight years. Mayor Brandon Scott defended the secretive handling of the contracts by saying it was all done in the public interest. Mark Reutter/The Baltimore Brew.

BA CO COUNCIL OKs EQUITY ASSESSMENT OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT: The Baltimore County Council Tuesday agreed to spend more than $280,000 in COVID relief money on an 18 month equity assessment of county government that council members had questioned just one week earlier. Sevetra Peoples Brown, chief of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Division, told the council the equity assessment will establish a baseline on how the county is doing and where it can improve equitable decision making. John Lee/WYPR-FM.

UM COLLEGE PARK PUBLISHES REPORT ON EARLY CONNECTIONS TO SLAVERY: The University of Maryland, College Park this month published its first research report on the institution’s connections to slavery, detailing how founder Charles B. Calvert was a descendant of enslavers and owned at least 55 slaves who worked on his Riverside plantation, land that makes up part of UMD’s campus. Lilly Price/The Baltimore Sun.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

cynthiaprairie@gmail.com
https://www.chestertelegraph.org/

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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