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Friday, November 09, 2007

Slots & Taxes: What our legislators are saying (part 14)

(Posted 9 Nov 2007)
Senate gives preliminary approval to slots referendum.
Baltimore Examiner, 8 Nov 2007 (Witte, AP).
(and several other sources under varying titles)
* * *
Sen. Delores Kelley, D-Baltimore County, first tried to take landscaping services out of the bill. Kelley said she has heard from hundreds of landscapers whose businesses have suffered from drought can't imagine how they would start implementing the tax.

But Sen. Ulysses Currie said "people who are able to bring in lawn services would be able to pay this tax." Currie, D-Prince George's, also said there could be further changes when the House acts on the proposal.
* * *
Comment: My neighbors who use lawn services are almost all retired people on fixed incomes who are no longer physically capable of doing the work. Although the Democrats claim to support senior citizens, this makes it look as if they, led by Sen. Currie, want to help drive our seniors out of their homes as they age.

Keeping score on taxes no easy task.
Sun, 9 Nov 2007 (Marbella).
* * *
Then there was the fiddling with the sales tax -- the proposal to increase it from 5 percent to 6 percent remains, but now it will be expanded to a different group of services, landscape and computer services and video arcades, none of which had any idea they were being considered.

So the gyms and the real estate management interests were prepared, and put on a successful full-court -- or rather, full-lobby -- effort to remain exempt from the sales tax. Meanwhile, the gardening, computer and arcade businesses were caught, well, maybe not with their pants down but without a lobbyist in tow -- apparently a much more dangerous thing this time of year.

And yet, Sen. Ulysses Currie, head of the budget committee, played down the role that lobbyists had on whom the committee decided to tax, or not tax.

"Lobbyists," Currie actually said on the Senate floor yesterday, "almost have no influence on the vote."

Hmm, the guys who would get taxed under the current bill had no lobbyists in place, and the ones who won't get taxed did -- what a coincidence.
* * *
Another blogger comments:

The Beclowning of Ulysses Currie.
Red Maryland, 9 Nov 2007 (Streiff).
* * *
When asked if the proposed sales tax on landscaping services would include kids who mowed grass or removed snow, Senator Currie opined, "[P]eople who are able to bring in lawn services would be able to pay this tax."
* * *
This guy is a clown. He may not be the biggest clown in the General Assembly, that would be a title hotly contested by probably a dozen or so members, but yesterday he was certainly the most prominent clown.
My comment: I can't help how long Currie's nose grew at this point: "Lobbyists," Currie actually said on the Senate floor yesterday, "almost have no influence on the vote."

Sales tax for computer services draws opposition; Opponents say tax plan would hurt small business.
Daily Record, 8 Nov 2007 (Rosen).
A proposed sales tax on computer services emerged as a popular target Thursday as foes called it unclear and dangerous to small business.
* * *
An impassioned Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-Upper Shore, said the proposal was moving too quickly and there should be more time for people to respond to the proposal and for legislators to clarify the intent of the legislation.

“What’s the rush this week …?” he asked Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George’s. “You’ve just included millions of people into a tax bill, and you didn’t get the input of the industry, and you’re saying we didn’t have time.”

Currie responded that now is the time to get the state’s budget in order.
* * *
Health club sales tax draws fire here.
Bowie Blade-news, 8 Nov 2007 (McHugh).
* * *
Instead of a bill that taxes people who exercise, there should be a bill that rewards them for their conscientiousness, he said.

Del. Jim Hubbard, D-Bowie 23A, agrees, and opposes the tax for health clubs. "Those are the people who are trying to stay healthy and who won't have to spend as much on Medicare and medication in their older years. So why should we penalize them when they're trying to stay healthy?" Hubbard, of Bowie, is assistant House majority leader and serves on the Health and Government Operations Committee.

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