Week of March 9, 2015



 Many small businesses, partnerships, S Corporations and others file taxes through the personal income tax rather than the corporation tax.  These are known as pass through payers.  If they are in the highest graduated tax rate, they pay at a higher rate than corporations, when including the locally paid Piggyback Tax.  It is said that 8000 small businesses have closed down or moved out-of-state partly due to the tax burdens.  SB282 (Mar 10, Budget & Tax) attempts to alleviate that.

A bill sponsored by the Senate President with bi-partisan co-sponsors would repeal the Gas Tax Cola, SB589.

A couple of bills to alleviate the impact of MD’s high TOLLS include SB376 (Mar 11 in B&T) and SB408 (Mar 12 in Environment & Transportation).  The tolls are so high in the Baltimore tunnels that it is readily apparent that a lot of traffic now diverts west around I-695 to return to I-95 south.  Now the western side of the beltway is really choked.

A Retirement Act (HB960, Mar 10, Ways & Means) for Hometown Heroes, Police, Firemen, Pensioners and 401k holders would offer a subtraction modification from the income tax in an obvious effort to keep many from leaving MD to avoid high taxes. If this were to pass, it needs amending, to include the majority of private sector retirees without pensions, or who have taken a lump sum, and who have rolled over their 401Ks into IRAs.


Even after the election, a bill comes (HB240, Mar 10, Budget & Tax) that would add a smidgeon of a lower rate (0.15% lower) in a new, small category, add two higher categories.  One increases marginal rates for the $500,000 crowd while the other, resurrects the 6.25% marginal rate Millionaires’ Tax.  Why would anyone really want to try this again after 30% of millionaires left the state its first time around?  A serious study on Film Production Tax Credits is needed.  Bill HB753 would extend them to 2019, but limit them to $25 million each year.


New department heads, namely Michael Gill, Department of Business and Economic Development, and Kelly Schultz, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, have publicly complained about the immense amount of regulations business as well as the state are saddled with, complying enforcing respectively.  Some cost significant amounts of money and employment and economic opportunity.  Changing the name of DBED (HB943, Mar 9, Economic Matters) to be the Department of Economic Competitiveness and Commerce seems to be in the spirit of improving MD’s economy.  SB939 would establish an < span style=’background:yellow;mso-highlight:yellow’>Advisory Council on the Impact of Regulations on Small Businesses.  Similarly, we can only wish that a better impact statement on small business would appear in the Fiscal Notes to all bills.  On Mar 11 in Health & Government Operations comes HB986, which would create a Maryland Commission on Efficiency in Government.  Hear!  Hear!  If created, we want it to meet the challenges.


Our voting rights are sacred and should not be abused.  Two bills in Ways & Means on Mar 11 concern voting.  HB1076 requires individuals applying to vote to submit proof of U.S. citizenship.  Statistics have shown that states that require an ID at the polls have a better turnout than states, like MD, that don’t.  We guess that citizens, who are ID-ed at polls, feel that their vote will count with less chance of fraud.  Another bill, HB1049, wants full automation of voter registration.  It also extends Motor Voter type registration to college course registration and other institutions and agencies that deal with the public.  Motor Voter has been proved to register far too many people not qualified by law to vote.


The so-called Farmers’ Rights Act (HB1019, Mar 11, Environment & Transportation) requires farmers’ livestock production contracts to be reviewed by the Attorney General.  The only thing we can think of is another effort by the state to improve the environment by limiting farmers.  If environmentalists were really serious, they would insist on dredging the Conowingo Dam’s holding ponds.

Gun Bill Day in House Judiciary is Mar 10.

Assisted Suicide is the subject of SB676 (Mar 10, Education, Health & Environmental Affairs).  Studies in other places like The Netherlands and Oregon suggest too many unnecessary and unwanted deaths.  This country used to be about life, however, this bill seems rather suggestive of  books like 1984.

Two bills in Economic Matters on Mar 10 are of interest.  The Overwork Prohibition Act, HB1027, would further regulate employers.  The Equal Pay for Equal Work bill, HB1051, seems fair on the surface.  Both, however, are invitations to unfair lawsuits and big settlements that would harm businesses and other workers.  Aren’t there already plenty of laws and regulations that cover these areas?



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