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State passes legislation to give one-year write-offs for manufacturing equipment

  • Published in State

The Maryland General Assembly included one-year write-offs of manufacturing equipment for tax purposes in its end-of-session legislative rush on April 10.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed the new tax law on April 11.

It was part of Hogan’s job creation initiative, attached to better-known provisions allowing for special tax incentives for manufacturing in less prosperous areas of Maryland, including parts of Baltimore, Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

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Congress struggles to be more HONEST about transparency

  • Published in News

CAPITOL HILL – Republicans in Congress are having a second go at a measure they say will increase transparency of federal environmental regulations.

On March 29, the House of Representatives voted 228-194 to pass the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (HONEST Act), which prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing an action, including a new regulation, unless the scientific and technical information used to make that decision is “the best available science; specifically identified; and publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.”

Both Maryland Reps. Anthony Brown (D-4) and Steny Hoyer (D-5) voted against the measure.

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"It will have teeth"

  • Published in Local

Governor signs bill designed to make Metro a safer place for riders

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Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed a bill to create a new Metro Safety Commission last week, bringing Maryland, D.C. and Virginia closer to their goal of creating a state-level safety oversight body for Metro.

Del. Kumar Barve (D-17), Maryland House Transportation and Environment Committee chairperson, said one of the hardest parts of passing the legislation, which was signed March 30, was for the three jurisdictions to work together.

“Having three cooks in the kitchen is daunting even when the three of them agree,” Barve said.

Chuck Bean, executive director of Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, said the new commission, if the Federal Transit Administration approves the bill, would have more power than the previous safety oversight group, the Tri-State Oversight Commission.

“The creation of the Metro Safety Commission is important because it will have regulatory oversight of safety matters for Metro, meaning it will have teeth and the power to impose fines or suspend service, and that’s something we’ve not had before,” Bean said Friday.

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Gaithersburg gets legislative update

  • Published in Local

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GAITHERSBURG—Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council were briefed Monday night about several issues of concern to the city in the current state legislative session. Monica Marquina, the city’s legislative affairs director, and Rob Garagiola, of the lobbying firm Alexander and Cleaver, which represents Gaithersburg, discussed their efforts working with the legislature thus far and their goals for the remaining third of the session where, Garagiola said, “90 percent of the work is still ahead.”

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Seniors and how they lose in state government

 

There are currently about three million seniors living in the state of Maryland and, of those, there are more than 850,000 over the age of 65. Each year, as the senior population loses members, new members join; those that were 64 last year become 65 this year. In two years those currently at 63 will join the club.
The senior club does at least one thing better than any other group; they vote. Accordingly, one must wonder why Governor Larry Hogan as well as the Maryland State Legislature have chosen to once again forget this rather considerable constituency when it comes time for some good old fashioned tax relief.

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“Held Back Reform Too Long”

  • Published in Local

Delaney proposes massive changes in the way Metro conducts business

 

A local representative said he has the legislative medicine to cure Metro’s ills.

“This legislation removes the brakes that have held back reform for too long,” said Rep. John Delaney (D-6), sponsor of the “WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) Improvement Act of 2017.”

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Power to the Attorney General

  • Published in State

Democrats look to expand attorney general powers to sue the federal government

 

The General Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that will give the state’s attorney general more power to sue the federal government on the state’s behalf.

After several executive orders from President Donald J. Trump alarmed Democratic leaders in Annapolis, members of the General Assembly, along with Attorney General Brian Frosh, have crafted a bill to expand the attorney general’s powers in the state. The bill passed the House of Delegates Wednesday after passing the Senate last week. The bill does not require the governor’s signature.

“Frankly, the need for this arises from the, I would say, erratic and implosive and you might even say reckless nature of what’s going in the past few weeks,” Frosh said in a committee hearing on the bill. “There’s been blizzard of executive orders, many of which are ill-advised.”

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General Assembly draws County ire over minimum wage

  • Published in Local

While the County Council is split on raising the minimum wage, it is unanimously opposed to a bill in the General Assembly that would prevent the County from raising the minimum wage.

House Bill 317 would prohibit local jurisdictions in Maryland from raising the minimum wage. While the council is split on raising the minimum wage in the County, it – along with the County Executive Ike Leggett – is opposed to the bill.

Berliner, who voted against the bill to raise the minimum wage in the County to $15 per hour, said he is against the state’s preempting the County.

“While we may differ internally as to the right path to 15 dollars an hour, we are unanimous in believing that it is our responsibility, not something the state should assume for itself,” said Council President Roger Berliner (D-1). “This state has great diversity, and our situation is not the same as Garrett County, our situation is not the same as St. Mary’s County, and we are in the best position to address the needs of our people.”

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Maryland House debates safety commission as FTA cuts funding

  • Published in State

ANNAPOLIS – A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) union member said at a bill hearing that he was concerned about the future of due process for employees if Maryland legislators pass a bill to create a new safety commission.

The commission would serve as WMATA’s state-level safety oversight agency, which Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are required to set up by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The FTA has been acting as Metro’s temporary state-level safety oversight agency since October 2015 after it determined the previous oversight agency, the tri-state oversight commission, failed to fulfill its safety oversight role effectively. The Metro Safety Commission would take over from the FTA.

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Hogan, O’Malley agree on gerrymandering reform

  • Published in State

Maryland’s two most recent governors agree on one of the most divisive issues in the state – gerrymandering.

Gov. Larry Hogan had faint praise for his predecessor, former Gov. Martin O’Malley, after getting wind of remarks O’Malley made at a speech at Boston College.

In his speech, which O’Malley published online in January, O’Malley called for a nonpartisan commission to draw congressional districts, a reform that Republicans in Maryland are in support of.

“America needs non-partisan redistricting commissions not only for drawing Congressional districts every ten years, but for state legislative districts as well,” O’Malley said. “This simple reform, already being adopted in some states, must become the new norm of American democracy.”

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