Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Maryland Legislators Unveil Bills to Offset Changes in Federal Tax Law

Maryland Legislators Unveil Bills to

Offset Changes in Federal Tax Law 

Maryland Democrats last week introduced a package of bills aimed at reversing the impact recent changes to the federal tax code will have on taxpayers and state coffers, their latest effort to roll back changes imposed by President Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.

The three bills would: 1) restore personal exemptions on state taxes; 2) lower the threshold on taxing the inheritances left by super wealthy residents; and 3)  allow taxpayers to receive a state tax credit for donations made to a new state-run charity that would benefit public schools.

1 – Restoring Personal Exemptions:  Because of the elimination of personal exemptions in the Federal tax law, the Maryland personal exemption will also be eliminated.  The exemption is $3,200 for the head of household and spouse QITH an additional $1,000 for each person over 65.  It is estimated that residents of the state claim about $680 million in personal exemptions on their state returns.  This bill introduced by Delegate Jay Walker will restore the elimination of the Maryland personal exemptions.

2 - My legislation affecting wealthy Marylanders uncouples the state from federal estate-tax rules. Under current law, Maryland — which has more millionaires per capita than any other state — is supposed to follow federal estate-tax rules beginning in 2019.  Those new rules raise the threshold for taxing inheritances from $5.49 million to $11 million. Maryland, which currently taxes inheritances greater than $4 million, would lose as much as $60 million a year if it uses the new federal threshold, Most Marylanders believe that if you are left over $11 million in an estate paying some taxes on it is not a real hardship. I have tried unsuccessfully to uncouple Maryland from federal estate-tax rules in previous sessions, but this year the Democratic leadership is backing the idea.

3 – The third bill is a proposal that a state-run charity that would be created by which would benefit public schools.   It is designed to allow donors to offset the $10,0000 limit the federal tax law places on deductions for state taxes and real estate starting this year.  The details on this bill have not been worked out.

There will be other proposals put forward in the next couple of weeks to make sure that Marylanders are not hurt by the harmful aspects of the Republican tax package.

Governor Hogan's Education Cuts

Last week the governor released the fourth and final budget proposal of his term and continued his record of slashing funding for important education programs. Using his power to propose changes in mandatory spending through the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (known as the BFRA), his plan would cut $17.1 million in FY2019 and $88.9 million over the next five years if adopted. Here’s how it adds up:

*Quality teacher recruitment and retention grants: $5 million cut in FY2019, $20 million cut in FY2020-2023
*National Board Certification Teacher stipends: $2.1 million cut in FY2019, $16.8 million cut in FY2020-2023
*After-school and summer programs: $5 million cut in FY2019, $15 million cut in FY2020-2021
*College readiness scholarships for low-income students: $5 million cut in FY2019, $20 million cut in FY2020-2023

We will do everything possible to restore these cuts.
Community Meeting on MagLev Super Train

Saturday January 27 11:00 AM
Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail (BWRR) Inc. has proposed the construction and operation of a high-speed superconducting magnetic levitation (SCMAGLEV) train system between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. There are no stops planned in Prince George's County although our residents will be deeply impacted. Everyone is encouraged to attend the local meetings to find out more about the SCMAGLEV. It would directly affect a large swath of Bladensburg--including the Waterfront Park, homes and business, the community center, high schools, and apartments--as well as the other established communities along the proposed routes.

Bladensburg's Mayor Takisha James and the Town Council will hold a community meeting regarding this super train on Saturday, January 27, 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., in the Bladensburg Community Center gym, 4500 57th Avenue (301-277-2124). Contact Mayor James at Bladensburg Town Hall (301-927-7048) for information about the meeting. The Bladensburg meeting will feature an in-depth presentation on the project by representatives from the Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail and the Maryland Economic Development Corporation. Public officials are encouraged to attend. Following the presentations time is allocated for questions from the audience. 


Delegate Fennell Leads Fight for $15 Minimum Wage

            Delegate Fennell is a lead sponsor of legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr by the year 2023.  It will also be indexed for inflation in future years so we do not have to keep on coming back to raise the minimum wage.  In addition it will increase the minimum wage for tipped wages.  The bill will go to the House Economic Matters Committee on which Delegate Fennell is a member.  It will be a big battle this year but we are hopeful it will be successful.

District 47 Night in Annapolis
Monday February 12 from 6pm - 8pm
More information will be distributed next week regarding signing  up and transportation.

Maryland Educators Endorse Fennell-Tarlau Team
Delegate Diana Fennell and I are honored to have been endorsed by the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA). Our District 47A Team is committed to full funding for our schools and to support our educators in every way possible.
Since Bail Reform, Maryland Holding Fewer People

Who Can't Afford Bond

Maryland's judges and public defender say the bail reform adopted last year is working - cutting in half the number of people who are jailed because they can't afford to post bond.

In the past, the state’s criminal justice system has held thousands of defendants because they couldn’t afford to pay bail, a practice that Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. have criticized.
Maryland’s Court of Appeals voted unanimously last year to overhaul the bail system, requiring judges to consider whether defendants are able to pay bail when they set conditions for release.

"As a result, about one-fifth of defendants are being held because they can’t or don’t pay bail, down from 40 percent in the months before the reforms were enacted," espoused Judge John P. Morrissey, Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland.  About 53 percent of those who appear before a bail commissioner are released from custody, up from 44 percent before the reforms, he said.

Paul B. DeWolfe, the state’s public defender, called the statistics “positive results” and proof that “the rule is doing what it set out to do.” Bail is intended to ensure defendants appear in court, not to be used as a tool to hold them in jail.

 “There has been a dramatic decline in the use of money bail,” DeWolfe told the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee after Morrissey briefed the panel on the trends. “More people are getting out faster.”

DeWolfe said data his office has reviewed also show that the bonds being imposed are significantly lower, usually falling within what defendants can afford.

But the flip side of the trend is that more defendants are also being held without bail — about 20 percent of those appearing at bail hearings, up from 7.5 percent before the rule change.

Judges say that reflects an end to the practice of setting bail at hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for the defendants deemed most at risk of committing further crimes or endangering the community. In the past, judges would impose such steep bond requirements because “they were a million dollars’ worth of nervous this individual was going to go out and harm someone,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey said the city and many other jurisdictions around the state need to improve pretrial services, where judges have a larger menu of tools short of detention that can be used to ensure defendants show up to court — including scheduled phone calls and house arrest. That could be difficult for Baltimore, but “it would go a long way,” he said.


Scholarship from our office are available for constituents living in District 47A, who are attending or will be attending a Maryland undergraduate, graduate, or professional school during school year 2017-2018. You can print out an application at my web-site www.jimmytarlau.olg or contact me at jimmy.tarlau@house.state.md.us  and request one by email.  Or you may call my office at 301-858-3326 and leave your email address.  This year, my scholarship application is due Friday, April 15th.