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Democrats assail Governor Hogan in Sentinel debate

  • Published in Local

From left to right, Elizabeth Embry, Krishanti Vignarajah, Ben Jealous, Richard Madaleno, Alec Ross and Brandon Scott at the Sentinel Newspapers sponsored Democratic candidate debate Monday.  PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITHFrom left to right, Elizabeth Embry, Krishanti Vignarajah, Ben Jealous, Richard Madaleno, Alec Ross and Brandon Scott at the Sentinel Newspapers sponsored Democratic candidate debate Monday.         PHOTO BY GEORGE SMITH  ROCKVILLE — According to State Senator Richard Madaleno, Governor Larry Hogan’s popularity boils down to one thing; “He’s running on my record,” Madaleno said in a Democratic candidate debate sponsored by The Sentinel Newspapers Monday night.

Former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous, Madaleno (D-18), former U.S. State Department official Alec Ross and former Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama Krishanti Vignarajah all participated in the debate. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and Baltimore businessman Jim Shea sent their running mates, prosecutor Elizabeth Embry and Baltimore City Council member Brandon Scott, respectively.

The debate, like most Democratic primary forums, began and ended with attempts at knocking Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) record on jobs, schools and lack of opposition to President Donald J. Trump.

“This thing you read about that ‘Maryland is open for business’ that is total and complete bullshit,” Ross said.

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We all should be "Mad as Hell" again

bs md house budget 20180322What's that you say?”
“Come again?”
“I can't hearrrrr youuuuu!”
That is, in essence, what our state legislators have said to taxpayers in the state of Maryland. Basically, their message is: I can't hear you, and even if I did, I don't really care!
As previously mentioned in this column, the recently-released federal tax plan hits the taxpayers of high-taxed states such as Maryland particularly hard. It is estimated that, as a result of the federal tax plan, Maryland taxpayers will see an increase of approximately $400 million in state taxes owed for the 2018 tax year.
What to do, what to do, what to do? Well, the state legislature has apparently decided to spend it and not return it to the taxpayers who, if nothing is done, will see an associated increase in their state tax bill come April 15, 2019.
Using the 2014 Personal Statistics of Income from the Comptroller's table for itemized deductions, the average increase in state and local returns for Marylanders with an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less would average about $1000 in additional state tax per return.

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Fare Game

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Delegate Korman suggests less of a need for fare increases if budget proposals are met

Maryland Flag Metro LogoThe Maryland General Assembly likely will fully fund Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s request for the operating budget, reducing the risk of untimely fare increases or service cuts, a local delegate said.

“I haven’t heard any pushback for the operating [budget],” said the delegate, Del. Marc Korman (D-16), who represents Montgomery County, on Tuesday.

Korman said Friday’s news that Gov. Larry Hogan said he supported the idea of a dedicated funding source added to his confidence. Wiedefeld in his 2017 plan requested all three jurisdictions find means to supply money on which Metro can sell debt each year. Wiedefeld left the decision of where to find the dedicated funding up to the jurisdictions.

“We spent a lot of time on it; on Friday, he [Hogan] agreed,” Korman said.

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Local politicians turn deaf ears to bipartisan pleas from Trump

  • Published in Local

In Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address President Donald J. Trump called for my bipartisanship in hopes to unify the County – a message that local leaders did not receive.

“The first year of the Trump administration has been one of most significant tests of our democracy in our lifetime,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) about Trump’s State of the Union speech. “In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Trump was eager to take credit for things he had nothing to do with and ignore the harm he has imposed on the country over the last year.”

The State of the Union, an annual speech that most modern presidents have given to a joint session of Congress, has become a platform for presidents to speak to the nation directly and talk about their policy achievements and goals. During his speech, Trump highlighted a tax cut he signed in December, decreasing unemployment and increasing economic growth as his main accomplishment. In response Democrats have criticized the Trump’s touted accomplishments saying the majority of the new growth has gone to the nation’s wealthiest citizens.

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Hogan proposes term limits for Maryland General Assembly

  • Published in State

Maryland FlagMaryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) hopes a term limits bill he proposed last week will end the Democratic Party’s “corruption” and control of the General Assembly by limiting delegates and state senators to two four-year terms.

“Our founding fathers never envisioned professional politicians who spend their entire careers in office; what they intended was citizen legislators who would represent their constituents and then return back home to their real jobs,” Hogan said during a press conference in Annapolis last week. “The rise of professional politicians has led to out-of-control partisanship, the stifling of honest debate and fresh ideas, rampant gerrymandering, one-party monopolies, and an increased potential for the type of corruption that our administration has been fighting to root out,” said the governor.

Hogan’s proposed bill, the Government Accountability Act of 2018, would limit state delegates and senators to two consecutive four-year terms. If passed, the proposal would put state legislatures in line with the governor, who is currently limited to two four-year terms.

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Let the record speak for itself

MadalenoState Senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Madaleno.          PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZAs we approach Election Day 2018 next November as well as the primary in June it is important to understand all that is at stake in that more than likely transitional game-changing election. Certainly the Congressional elections across the country will be critical if there is any hope of undoing the damage to this country resulting from the Trump presidency.
Also critical to Maryland is who we place in the Governor's office to lead us in addressing many of the federal-level decisions that had direct impact on our state as well as implementing a long-term vision for our state.
I had the opportunity to sit down with State Senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Madaleno to discuss the challenges faced by Maryland and why he is confident that he is in the best position to lead us forward. I was more than pleased with what I heard.

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Ross makes bid to take governorship from Hogan

  • Published in State

Alec RossAlec Ross. FILE PHOTOWhen deciding who should be their standard-bearer against Governor Larry Hogan (R), Maryland Democrats who are weary after a year of resistance to President Trump might be wary of another newcomer to politics who has never held elected office.

But 46-year-old Alec Ross – a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and former advisor to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton – says he’s not that kind of newcomer.

“I’ve been in government, but I’m not a creature of government,” Ross said during an interview with the Sentinel last month.

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“Ease the Burden”

  • Published in Local

Local leaders look to mitigate effects of federal tax plan

Local leaders are bracing for the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which could hit County residents hard by eliminating a useful deduction for high tax states and cities.

On Wednesday both the House and Senate passed the long-awaited tax bill, which provides for $1.5 trillion in federal tax cuts and temporarily the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. The bill’s personal income tax cuts were written to expire in some years to meet requirements imposed by Senate rules, while cuts to the nation's corporate tax rate are permanent.

“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress has passed in decades to help the American worker, to help grow the American economy,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc), who has been pushing for massive tax cuts for the majority of his political career. “This is profound change, and this is change that is going to put our country on the right path.”

While many Americans’ taxes will be decreased, a provision in the bill that caps property tax deductions at $10,000 has become an issue for residents in places with high property taxes according to elected leaders.

Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) wrote a letter urging Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine to allow residents to prepay property taxes in order take advantage of the current, and more favorable tax deduction before the new tax cut takes effect.

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Fire marshal killed in car crash honored at funeral

  • Published in Local

Fire Marshal Memorial Service 3Fellow firefighters were among the many who gathered at B’Nai Israel Congregation in Rockville to honor and mourn Deputy Chief Sander Cohen with the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal. Cohen was killed Dec. 8 when he and FBI Agent Carlos Wolff, were struck and killed by a vehicle after Cohen stopped to assist Wolff on I-270.  COURTESY PHOTO  ROCKVILLE — His winning smile, constant jokes, and his desire to help others will be what those who knew Deputy Chief Sander Benjamin Cohen will remember most about him.

Cohen, a 33-year-old Deputy Chief in the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal with nine years on the job – was killed on Dec. 8 as he attempted to assist 36-year-old FBI Agent Carlos Wolff on southbound I-270 north of Gude Drive.

Cohen was off-duty and driving home when he stopped to provide assistance to Wolff, an FBI Supervisory Special Agent whose car was blocking the left lane after a single-car accident. As Cohen and Wolff stood on the left shoulder of the highway, another car struck both men, propelling them over the center barrier and killing them both.

It was Cohen’s tendency to take selfless actions like those which more than 1,900 people – the vast majority clad in uniforms of police, fire, and emergency medical services – intended to celebrate as they gathered six days later at the B’Nai Israel Congregation in Rockville.

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MoCo makes bid for Amazon

  • Published in Local

Amazon.com logo1Just two weeks since Amazon asked states and counties to bid for its second headquarters—a project that could mean 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment to the winning locality—Montgomery County and competitors all around the country were busy putting their proposals together.

Seattle-based Amazon asked for bids on Sept. 7, and gave just six weeks for initial proposals due Oct. 19. From those, Amazon will select finalists to compete for the prize with fully-specified bids.

According to the Seattle Times, more than 100 cities/counties and states/provinces in the U.S. and Canada are putting together proposals. Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener said at this early stage in the process, “Every city is on an equal playing field.” He indicated the company will choose finalists from the initial applicants, and will select a winner next year.

Even within the state of Maryland and the D.C. area, Montgomery County faces substantial competition. On Sept. 13, Gov. Larry Hogan threw his support to a bid to bring the Amazon project to Port Covington in Baltimore, a site owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and investment firm Goldman Sachs. Hogan said he would personally lobby Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on behalf of the Baltimore bid.

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