Annapolis notes 3/17/03

March 17, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

With three weeks to go in the Maryland General Assembly's regular 90-day session, Washington County's most weighty piece of legislation finally will get its first hearing this week.

The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday in the House Ways and Means Committee. People interested in testifying should sign up in the committee room at least 30 minutes in advance.

The "Washington County Growth Management Act of 2003" would give the county government the power to tax real estate transfers and new construction to raise as much as $5 million.

The proposed transfer tax would be capped at .5 percent. The proposed excise tax would be capped at $1 per square foot on new construction.


If approved by the legislature and the Washington County Commissioners, the transfer tax would increase closing costs by $750 on a $150,000 house.

While most of the money would go toward school renovation, lawmakers said it could be spent on public safety, farmland preservation and debt reduction.

Senate leader helps get votes for nominee's rejection

The longest serving Senate president in the country flexed his political muscle last week by rounding up the votes to defeat Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's choice for environmental secretary.

The Senate's refusal to confirm former Chrysler attorney Lynn Buhl marked the first time in Maryland's history the body rejected a governor's cabinet choice.

Some political insiders were awed by the power wielded by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Prince George's.

Others were disgusted.

"There is no such thing as an honest disagreement with Mike Miller. He is just a bully," said lobbyist Minor Carter.

Republicans downplayed their governor's loss, noting that the last time there was a bipartisan government more than three decades ago, the state had no Cabinet secretaries.

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