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First click -- Maryland

First Click

Your daily download of Maryland's top political news and analysis

Tuesday, December 01, 2009:

House of Delegates holds "retreat" to begin work on state budget woes; health-care advocates push for an increase in state alcohol tax, and environmental groups rally against "dirty energy" projects in state.

Lawmakers bone up on state budget problems
The House Appropriations Committee is holding an all-day budget session with briefings on how to close an estimated $1.5 billion budget shortfall in the spending year beginning next summer. There's no fancy venue for this "retreat," however. The committee is meeting in its usual hearing room in Annapolis. The Senate follows Thursday with a similar marathon session.

Alcohol tax could save lives, proponents say
Marylanders should start thinking of increased alcohol taxes the way they do of cigarette taxes, say Maryland Citizens' health Initiative and the state's chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. A 10-cent per drink tax could reduce alcohol dependency, raise significant new revenue for the state and even save lives. The groups plan to release a study today from a Johns Hopkins public health professor to back up their case.

Hundreds expected at clean-energy rally
Sierra Club, Environment Maryland, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and others are joining forces today for a rally in Baltimore aimed at highlighting good clean energy projects in the state and drawing attention to proposed "dirty energy" projects in the area.

Around the state, in brief:

  • The Post's Ovetta Wiggins takes a deeper cut at Prince George's County officials weighing creation of a biotech hub.

  • Comptroller Peter Franchot's quest for financial literacy curriculum in high schools is gaining traction, writes The Sun's Laura Smitherman.

  • Constellation will buy a western Maryland wind farm, writes Danielle Ulman at the Daily Record.

  • O'Malley Watch says there's a contradiction in Gov. Martin O'Malley saying state dollars shouldn't be used to buy out UMD football coach Ralph Friedgen: What about Brooks Royster?

  • Liam Farrell at the Capital looks at whether the state's higher tax on the rich could be here to stay.

  • Red Maryland ponders a "NY-23 scenario" in Frederick County.

  • Montgomery County's budget gap is still growing reports Sarah Krouse at the Washington Business Journal.

  • Maryland Politics Watch dissects a feud between the county council and schools chief Jerry Weast.

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    By Aaron C. Davis  |  December 1, 2009; 8:52 AM ET
    Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
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    Next: Budget panel looks back at 'revenue disappointments'


    To call the proposed Maryland alcohol tax increase simply a “dime-a-drink” is disingenuous. It's a massive 560 percent tax increase that translates to dollars per bottle. Such an increase does, in fact, hurt restaurants, bars, hotels and liquor stores. Any increase on distilled spirits taxes will further strain hospitality businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage to neighboring states and the District of Columbia.

    At a time when Maryland's hospitality industry is hurting, legislative leaders should be working to protect these jobs, not forcing more hard-working people out of work through misguided tax hikes.

    Posted by: bjenki1 | December 3, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

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