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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Local [Democratic] delegates voted 'nay' on textbook tax exemption

(Posted 28 Nov 2007)
Local delegates voted 'nay' on textbook tax exemption.
Diamondback, 28 Nov 2007 (Cohen).
Among the casualties of the rushed and contentious special session of the state legislature that ended this month was a little-noticed measure that could have put more than a few dollars in students' pockets.

An amendment introduced in the House of Delegates would have exempted students from paying sales tax on textbooks.

But the measure was never introduced in the Senate and all of the delegates that represent the university's district voted against it in the house.

The delegates, however - all of whom are Democrats - called the amendment a stalling tactic on the part of the assembly's Republican minority. They said they will be waiting for a study expected in the coming weeks on the issue of skyrocketing textbook costs before they consider legislation to curb the problem.

"I don't think students, or anyone else, are going to be fooled," Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Prince George's and Anne Arundel) said. "They were trying to score political points."

Nevertheless, Republican delegate Michael Smigiel, who offered up the amendment in the House, said Democrats should have taken a more serious look at offering students the exemption.

After some debate, the amendment was voted down by 90 legislators to 40. The Democratic majority voted overwhelmingly against the bill. Smigiel saw the rejection as partisan.

"I guess politics trumps rationality," said Smigiel. "There were some good things that were rejected simply because they were submitted by another party member."
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Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George's and Anne Arundel) said the Democrats' rejection of the tax exemption was not partisan.
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