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The Maryland House of Delegates gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that would raise income tax rates for wealthy state residents, a measure that passed in the Maryland Senate by a vote of 27-19. A final vote will come Wednesday morning.
Just like in the House, several amendments were pushed by Republicans that were easily defeated. House Democrats from Montgomery County did try and make a change of their own as well: instead of a jump in the income tax, they proposed to hike the sales tax one penny. That was rejected without a roll call vote.
Democrat Kathleen Dumais of Montgomery County supported the income tax increase, even though the hike will affect her county the most in the state: "And you know what district it effects the most in my county? My district. But here's the deal — the investment is worth it."
The bill would also raise increase revenues in other ways. Taxes on cigars and smokeless tobacco will rise sharply under the legislation, and counties will start paying part of the cost for teacher pensions.
It's expected to pass, much like it did in the Senate, where Democrat Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County said the hikes will stop severe spending cuts in public education: "One in five Marylanders will be touched by our public education system. That's how many young people are in our K-12 system and our higher education system including community colleges."
The Senate advanced the package of bills yesterday. Under the plan, the income tax will rise on those who make more than $100,000 a year and couples who make more than $150,000.
Two rallies took place outside of the statehouse Tuesday afternoon; the second and larger of which actually didn't have anything to do with taxes at all. It featured around 100 pit bull owners who want lawmakers to take up a bill that would negate a recent court decision that ruled pit bulls were an "inherently dangerous" dog breed. Delegate Heather Mizuer of Montgomery County says the ruling presents many problems.
"The liability concerns from that our landlords are telling their renters they must either get rid of their family pet, or they will be evicted from their homes."
The Senate did not take up the measure, meaning it is likely the pit bull bill will not be taken up by lawmakers until the expected second special session this summer, which is expected to focus on the expansion of gaming.