Fixing problems with new taxes

Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Newman isn’t happy with what she sees as a pattern in Maryland politics.

Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman

Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman

The Republican appeared Monday night on The Willis Report on Fox Business News Monday night to talk about her opposition to Maryland’s stormwater management fee, which is frequently called the “rain tax” by opponents. Continue reading

Mizeur’s pot for tots plan doesn’t add up


Del. Heather Mizeur

Del. Heather Mizeur

Marylanders would have to smoke a lot of pot in order to pay for full implementation of a preschool education plan proposed by Del. Heather Mizeur.

But the plan proposed by the Democratic candidate for governor would face a (dare we say it) chronic shortfall beginning in the fourth year. Continue reading

Basu on rain tax: They get you on the bounce

131115BasuLeave it to an economist to sum up how Maryland’s stormwater management fee works.

“They get you on the bounce,” said Anirban Basu, chairman and chief executive officer of Baltimore-based Sage Policy Group.

Basu made his comments to the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition during a 90-minute presentation on the economic effect and impact of rural areas of the state. [Subscriber access.]

“The Maryland state legislature is very very creative,” Basu said of the so-called rain tax. “You know for time immemorial, literally thousands of years, dictators, emperors, kings, queens, tribal chieftains, the shogunate have been trying to figure out ‘How do I tax the rain?’ For  thousands of years no one had been able to figure out how to do this, the brilliant minds of the past. Continue reading

Pols in hot water over rain tax

ANNAPOLIS — Republicans and Democrats alike appear to be lining up with legislation to alter and in some cases repeal the controversial stormwater pollution fee sometimes referred to as the “rain tax.”

Many have their eye on next year’s elections, and some are complaining of what they see as uneven application of the 2012 law across the jurisdictions to which it applies — eight counties and Baltimore city.

“You’re going to see a lot of stuff on the rain tax,” said Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore, chairwoman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Conway was one of the legislators who supported the bill a year ago. It was intended to require nine of the state’s largest counties, and the city, to meet federal mandates to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment runoff.

But implementation of the law has been different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and complaints have come from all directions — business owners, nonprofits and churches, and residential property owners. Continue reading

Hogan on Rain Tax: ‘It’s Time to Start Electing Real Leaders’

Hogan, LarryAPylesWarning letters sent in October to two Maryland counties by Attorney General Doug Gansler and Department of the Environment Sec. Robert Summers have drawn strong, if not terribly swift, condemnation from the chairman of

“Everyone wants a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay,” said Larry Hogan in a statement released Wednesday. “But this most recent missive from the administration proves that this is more about increasing people’s taxes than protecting our Bay. It’s time for us to start electing real leaders who will fund important projects like cleaning up the Bay without breaking the backs of taxpayers.” Continue reading

Inside Maryland Politics: The Unemployment Insurance Tax Drop

Inside Maryland Politics. Logo courtesy of WYPR

Inside Maryland Politics. Logo courtesy of WYPR

In case you missed it this morning, I joined Fraser Smith, senior news analyst for WYPR, on Inside Maryland Politics to discuss the expected decrease in the state’s unemployment insurance tax. Continue reading

Franchot wants sales tax holiday expanded

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot would like to see the governor and General Assembly expand what merchandise is covered under Maryland’s tax-free week during the annual state-subsidized sale.

The week-long tax break for clothes and shoes under $100 wrapped up last weekend, and Franchot said during Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting the temporary tax break came as a relief to Maryland families, especially those with children preparing to go back to school.

With the students in mind, Franchot said eligible merchandise ought to be expanded to include back-to-school items such as backpacks.

“Other states do that and I think it would be equally well received and successful” in Maryland, Franchot said.

Franchot’s office estimates that the state forgoes $5 million in tax revenue during the sales tax holiday but drums up lots of business for local retailers.

The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation was critical of the tax break this year, saying it does not increase purchases but instead  just changes when people make their purchases.

Franchot would fire ‘everybody’ involved in IRS-like scandal

If any employees working for the Comptroller of Maryland conducted themselves as some Internal Revenue Service employees apparently did, Comptroller Peter Franchot knows exactly how he would handle it.

“If something like this happens at my agency, I would fire any employee within a country mile of it,” Franchot said Tuesday. “When I walk into the Treasury Building, I check my politics at the door.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday announced there would be a criminal investigation of the IRS’ apparent targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Good, Franchot said.

“It is incomprehensible to me that just a small number of low level bureaucrats were responsible for this,” he said. “It’s really distressing for me to read about this.”

The comptroller — Maryland’s tax collector — said the IRS ought to be the one government agency in no way entangled in politics. If citizens begin to doubt that, it would be “incredibly unfortunate.”

“I take it personally, because that’s the responsibility I have,” Franchot said. “It’s the one agency that needs to be beyond reproach … We would fire anybody and everybody.”

The Eye on Annapolis Podcast

The Eye on Annapolis Podcast returns with a look back at a busy weekend in the House of Delegates.

Alex and I discuss the latest on the gun control and transportation bills and whether lawmakers will be able to resolve the major sticking points in the bills in the General Assembly’s final two weeks.

We also examine the prospects of tax increment financing (better known as TIFs) and reveal the man behind the medical marijuana bill.


Franchot looking for a Ravens-Redskins Super Bowl

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has made his opening statements at bimonthly Board of Public Works meetings can’t-miss political theater for at least the last year, returned to a favorite topic Wednesday morning: handicapping Maryland professional sports.

“I’m making plans for an I-95 Super Bowl between the Redskins and the Ravens,” said Franchot, who in March predicted the Washington Nationals would make the World Series while offering more tepid support for the Baltimore Orioles.

He reminded those in attendance Wednesday of his Major League Baseball predictions but admitted he did not foresee both of Maryland’s National Football League teams making the playoffs. (The Washington Redskins play their home games at FedEx Field in Landover.)

The first round of the NFL playoffs begins this weekend. The Ravens will host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at 1 p.m., while the Redskins will host the Seattle Seahawks at 4:30 p.m. The teams would have to win Sunday and then twice more to meet in the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

It’s unclear whether Franchot’s endorsement is a good sign for fans of the Ravens and Redskins. Both the Orioles and the Nationals made the playoffs after years of ineffectiveness, but neither advanced past the second round.

What is clear is that having two teams in the NFL playoffs is good for the state coffers, Franchot said, because the teams’ success has put consumers in high spirits.

“Trust me, I can see it in the sales tax revenue,” he said. “People feel better.”