Tax On Alcoholic Beverages Is Too Much To Swallow

By the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association Supporters of a tax increase on alcoholic beverages in Maryland usually forget to note one important detail. They’re not looking to increase the tax by 10% or 20% – or even to double it. House Bill 832, the legislation they’ve introduced, proposes a 600% to 1000% increase in the alcoholic beverage excise tax. The most appropriate word to describe this proposal is unreasonable. For example, if you now buy a bottle of liquor that costs $13.99 with the current tax, that same bottle would cost $17.99. New taxes would add $4 to your bill, and total taxes would make up 54% of a consumer’s $17.99 cost. That’s why, on behalf of our customers, the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association, which consists of over 1,200 Maryland businesses holding alcohol beverage licenses – restaurants, bars, taverns and package stores – opposes House Bill 832. Imagine a... Continue reading
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Education Beat: Appointed? Elected? Or maybe a bit of both?

By Mike Bowler Baltimore County may finally be getting a partially elected school board. Or not. Probably not. Legislation that would give the county a “hybrid” board of eight appointed members (including a student) and seven members elected by legislative district has the support of a bare majority of the county’s legislative delegation. But the opposition of County Executive James T. Smith Jr., the sitting school board and other establishment figures may doom the proposal – again – before week’s end. (Legislation that would have added elected commissioners to the Baltimore City appointed school board was rejected last Friday by the city’s House delegation.) Rejection of the Baltimore County plan would leave Maryland with 18 elected boards, four appointed and two hybrid or “blended” boards in Harford and Caroline counties. The 18 elected, 6 appointed/hybrid breakdown is the inverse of a quarter-century ago, when two-thirds of the state’s boards were appointed.... Continue reading
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Help bring Google fiber to Baltimore

You've probably heard the news that Google is planning to build ultra-high speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the country. And you've probably heard that Center Maryland's Tom Loveland (also CEO of Mind Over Machines) has been picked to serve as Baltimore's volunteer "Google Czar." Now is the time for everyone who supports this initiative to show their support for Google picking Baltimore as one of the trial locations to deploy 1 Gbps, fiber optic connections directly to people's homes. Become a Facebook fan. Follow the effort on Twitter. Put yourself on the map and your company's logo on the list of supporters at Just yesterday, Constellation and BGE both signed on as supporters, and William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, sent in a letter of support. (Read it here.) Google is judging cities on everything from the creativity of their ideas,... Continue reading
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Josh Kurtz: Kane is Able

Republican sources tell me that as he plots his political comeback, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) is taking a very close look at Mary Kane, the former Maryland secretary of State and wife of ex-state GOP Chairman John Kane, to be his running mate. It isn’t clear when Ehrlich will announce his choice — it isn’t even clear at this point when Ehrlich will announce his own candidacy, though most political insiders expect it to happen before the end of the month. The question for Ehrlich then becomes whether it makes more sense to immediately present the ticket or to make a splash with Kane — or whomever he ultimately selects — later. Right now, the Ehrlich camp is keeping mum. “Bob Ehrlich thinks very highly of Mary Kane, however, any speculation about potential running mates is premature since Bob Ehrlich has yet to announce his own intentions,” Ehrlich spokesman Henry... Continue reading
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Study commissions: The legislature’s way of avoiding tough decisions

By Tom LoBianco Task forces and study committees often serve in Annapolis as a way of putting off making decisions on tough issues. Kick it to a study, and report back later, goes the thinking in the General Assembly. And sometimes state lawmakers kick so hard they forget about those committees until the issue they were supposed to be studying pops up again in the news. That’s already happened at least twice during this year’s legislative session, with task forces which were supposed to study sex offenders and juvenile prisoners. The legislative task force is also occasionally used in Annapolis to defuse hot-button issues in election years. One such high-profile example was The Commission to Study the Impact of Immigrants in Maryland, which was formed at the height of the hotly contested First Congressional District race in 2008. Two years later that group has still not met, though a spokesman for... Continue reading
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