Monday, November 5, 2018

Voting Day Is Here!

Voting Hours:  7 AM to 8 PM
 
This is the day I've been waiting for since Election Day 2016.  It is the time for us to change the direction of our country and our state.  Too many people stayed home in 2016 and the results have been disastrous.  Everybody should come to vote.

My Recommendations
 
Some people have asked who I am going to vote for and what I think about some of the ballot initiatives.  I am not going to list every office because some of the candidates are unopposed, or do not have much opposition.

These are races I do feel very strongly about:

Governor/ Lt Governor – Ben Jealous and Susan Turnbull

I supported Ben Jealous in the Democratic Primary and continue to support him.
His platform for moving Maryland forward is consistent with what I believe, including:
                $15 minimum wage
                Universal Health Care/Medicare-for –All
                Universal Pre-K Education
                Criminal Justice Reform

(You can see his complete platform at:  https://benjealous.com/issues)

A number of people have told me that they don’t think Larry Hogan is a bad guy, and think that he works in a bi-partisan manner and deserves to be re-elected.  Having served in the legislature, I really have to disagree.  Hogan is a highly partisan politician who did the following:

1.            Vetoed Paid Sick Days for Workers
2.            Vetoed Increasing Renewable Energy in Maryland
3.            Vetoed Restoring Voting Rights to Residents Leaving Prison
4.            Vetoed a Bill to Decriminalize Marijuana
5.            Vetoed a Bill to Help Halt Deportations of Immigrants over Minor Offenses
6.            Vetoed Giving Parents & Teachers a Role in Education
7.            Vetoed a Bill to Stop Police from Taking Your Money When You Haven't Committed a Crime
8.            Delayed Tougher Water Pollution Rules for Coal Plants, After Trying to Postpone Them Indefinitely
9.            Called Removal of Additional Confederate Monuments Political Correctness "Run Amok"
10.          Vetoed Ban-the-Box Legislation (important  legislation that was passed over his veto, preventing discrimination in college applications - previously, when you applied to a college in Maryland, you could be required to give information about whether you’d ever been convicted of any offense, however minor)
11.          Refused to fund the Red Line transportation project in Baltimore
12.          Did not fund Prince George’s Hospital
 

I believe if Hogan is re-elected he will become more conservative and less bi-partisan as he tries to move up in the Republican Party – and when he no longer needs to make himself attractive to Maryland Democratic voters.  If we want to move Maryland in a more progressive direction and help Prince George’s County we need to elect Ben Jealous Governor.

Attorney General – Brian Frosh

I believe Brian Frosh is the best Attorney General our state has ever had.  He is a tireless advocate for consumer rights and has taken the initiative to sue President Trump when his policies have hurt Maryland residents.

State Senate District 47 – Malcolm Augustine

I have known Malcolm for six years.  He is a hard worker who has shown me his commitment to serving our community.  For the last five years he has been to every municipal council meeting, civic association meeting and community event.  He has earned my support and I think he will make an effective responsive State Senator.

(Dina Fennell, and Julian Ivey are running for State Delegate in District 47A unopposed.)

Board of Education District 3 - Pamela Boozer-Strother

(Mount Rainier, Brentwood, N. Brentwood, Avondale/Woodridge, Chillum, Hyattsville, University Park)

Pamela lives in Brentwood.  I have known her for over twelve years and worked with her on the Gateway Community Development Corporation and in the Mount Rainier/Brentwood Community.  She is hard working and conscientious.  She brings the perspective of a parent, an activist in the local PTA and a home owner.  Since so much of the state budget goes to education, I believe it is important that someone who knows how difficult it is to pay property taxes will make sure that the money is spent well.  Her program includes building new schools in our area that have smaller class sizes, paying educators fairly, and expanding the arts and language programs in all the schools.  She was endorsed by the Washington Post.

Ballot Questions 

I will be voting YES on all these questions.  Here is some of my reasoning:

Question 1 – Constitutional Amendment Requiring Gaming Revenues to Supplement Spending for Education – YES

When casinos were approved in Maryland the money was supposed to be used for education spending.  While technically this money has been used for education, it has not added to education funding as intended, because money that was previously dedicated for education was then used for other purposes.  This Constitutional Amendment would guarantee that all casino moneys would be used to supplement moneys that are already placed in the budget as a result of the spending formulas that are part of the Bridge of Excellence Act passed in 2002.

Question 2 – Same-Day Registration on Election Day – YES

This Constitutional Amendment will allow people to register and vote on Election Day.  Right now people can register during Early Voting but not on Election Day.  Across the country, Republicans are working hard to suppress the vote. Anything we can do to encourage people to vote and increase citizen participation is a good, democratic thing.

County Referendums A- E:  Charter Amendments to Allow the County to Borrow Money by Issuing Bonds - YES

While county and municipal budgets are used for operating expenditures, bonds are normally needed to fund capital construction costs – in the case of these bonds,  for new and rehabilitated facilities for Public Works and Transportation, the County Library System, Public Safety, County Building, and Prince George’s Community College.  I use the analogy with buying a home or doing a major renovation.   Most of us don’t have cash to pay for a house or even a new kitchen, so we take out a loan from the bank, normally in the form of a mortgage or re-financing loan on the equity in our home.  In the same way, local jurisdictions (who have to balance their budgets) have to borrow money for capital improvements (i.e., construction projects) and then pay off the projects over a number of years (similar to a mortgage).

County Charter Amendments F – K
Recommendations from the Charter Review Commission - YES


I honestly do not know much about these amendments, but I looked through them and do not see anything controversial with them.  They are all recommendations from the County Review Commission.  You can read all the recommendations here:   https://pgccouncil.us/DocumentCenter/View/3405/2018-Charter-Review-Report . (The specific pages for each amendment are discussed on pages 3-6.)

League of Women Voters Voting Guide

The league publishes a very detailed guide with candidate biographies and responses to questions as well as details about each of the ballot initiatives and a list of the projects planned for each of the bond bills that have been proposed.

 You should check it out at:  https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/lwvmaryland/pages/2249/attachments/original/1538681960/PG_County_2018_General_Electionl_100318.pdf?1538681960

If you have any questions or comments about any of the candidates or issues, please send me an email at jtarlau@gmail.com and I will respond. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Important Tax Credit Deadlines

Important Tax Credit Deadlines
 

 Homeowners Property Tax Credit – September 1


 Renters Tax Credit – September 1


 Student Loan Tax Credit – September 15
 

 
 
Homeowners' Property Tax Credit Program
 
For homeowners with a combined gross household income of $60,000 or less, this program allows credits against the homeowners’ property tax bill, but the taxes must exceed a fixed percentage of a person’s gross income. It sets a limit on the amount of property taxes a homeowner must pay, based on income. Income is defined as the gross income before any deductions are taken. Nontaxable retirement benefits such as Social Security and Railroad Retirement must be reported as income. You must apply every year no later than September on a standard application supplied by the Department of Assessments and Taxation. Example: If your combined household income is $16,000, your tax limit is $420. You would be entitled to receive a credit for any taxes above the $420. You would be entitled to receive a credit for any taxes above the $420. If your actual property tax bill is $990, you would receive a tax credit in the amount of $570, the difference between the actual tax bill and the tax limit.

Apply here: http://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Pages/Homeowners'-Property-Tax-Credit-Program.aspx 

 
Maryland Renters’ Tax Credit Program

The State of Maryland Renters' Tax Credit Program provides Property Tax credits for renters who are (i) age 60 and older, (ii) 100% disabled, or (iii) have dependents under 18 and meet certain income requirements. Under HB-340, passed by the Prince George’s County Delegation and the Maryland General Assembly in the 2016 Legislative Session, renters can receive maximum tax relief up to $1,000. This legislation also expands the statewide Renters Tax Credit program and increases the pool of eligible applicants. To get a credit, you must file by September 1st. Contact the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation at 1-800-944-7403 or visit: http://dat.maryland.gov/realproperty/Pages/Renters'-Tax-Credits.aspx
 

Student Loan Tax Credit 

Who is eligible to receive the Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credit?

The tax credit will be available to Maryland taxpayers who:

1.  File Maryland State Income Taxes for the tax year;
2.  Have incurred at least $20,000 undergraduate and/or graduate student loan debt;
3.  Have at least $5,000 in outstanding student loan debt remaining when applying for the tax credit;
 4.   Have completed and submitted an application to the Maryland Higher Education Commission by September 15, 2018; and
 5.   Have submitted all required graduate and/or undergraduate student loan information, including Maryland Income Tax Information and college transcripts.

 How to Apply for the Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credit

To download the application, ​or Maryland Student Loan Debt Relief Tax Credit Application 2018.pdf

If you have questions, please view the Frequently Asked Questions 2018.pdf for more information.
 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

New Maryland Laws Effective July 1

Minimum Wage
Minimum wage will increase from $9.25 to $10.10
Pink hunting gear
“Daylight fluorescent pink” is now a color authorized for outwear worn by hunters hunting during the day.
Child sexual abuse training
Teachers will now receive annual training on recognizing child sexual abuse and to learn how to report it. A phone number to report will be clearly posted in schools.
Consent training
This law requires a county board of education to devise age-appropriate guidelines on introducing the meaning of consent and boundaries as part of the Family Life and Human Sexuality curriculum.
Teachers’ income tax modification
Teachers who spend up to $250 on stocking their classrooms without reimbursement are eligible for an income tax subtraction modification. The supplies must be used in the classroom or used a preparation for the school year.
Sunscreen in schools
Students will no longer need a note of permission to bring sunblock to school.