County Delegates Get Sobering Truth of Alcohol Tax Hike

State House

The proposed increase in Maryland’s alcohol tax isn’t going down smoothly with Baltimore County delegates who say their constituents will be paying the tab for a levy whose revenues are earmarked for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

Now, with less than a week before the General Assembly session ends, the county’s delegates are looking for a better deal—especially after county lobbyist Yolanda Winkler recently delivered sobering news about the effects of the increase on the state’s sales and use taxes on alcoholic beverages.

“You will be the biggest contributor and not get anything out of it,” Winkler told the delegates in a briefing last week.

Read more about it at Patch.

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Deer Hunts Could Come to County Parks


White-tailed deer

Some Baltimore County parks could be opened to deer hunting under a bill sponsored by Republican Councilman Todd Huff.

The bill, which will be introduced tonight, would allow the hunting of deer on county parkland that is authorized by the state Department of Natural Resources. The county would determine which species would be hunted.

Some county officials say Oregon Ridge, Cromwell Valley Park and Marshy Point Nature Center could be prime areas for managed deer hunts.

Read more about the bill on Patch.

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County Gets Share of Soon to be Discontinued Fed Program

Baltimore County received nearly 20 percent of all federal money handed out to Maryland companies and governments under an early retiree program that is part of the recently passed federal health care legislation.

Baltimore County is one of about 1,300 corporations and state and local governments in 50 states to receive about $1.8 billion in the last year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which administers the program.

The program was created as part of sweeping federal health care legislation passed in March 2010.

Read more about it on my Insider Politics Blog on Patch.

Hairston, Legislators Could Meet this Week



Legislators could get their meeting with Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston as early as this week.

Del. John A. Olszewski Jr., a Dundalk Democrat and chairman of the county’s House Delegation, said Friday that a meeting has tentatively been scheduled for some time this week.

Hairston could meet with legislators individually or in small groups rather than in public.

Read more about the meeting and what Sen. Kathy Klausmeier says about the relationship between legislators and Hairston on my Insider Politics blog on Patch.





The selection of two Republicans to serve on the Baltimore

County Board of Elections has rankled county Republican Party officials who say Gov. Martin O’Malley ignored the wishes of the local party.

The county Republican Party voted in November to oust Marge Neuman, a long-time board member, and replace her with Bruce Robinson, who was at the time a board alternate.

Neuman, long respected inside the county party, was the apparent victim of some intra-party squabbling in which central committee members turned against her in favor of another candidate.

The party was required to submit three names for O’Malley to consider. GOP party officials submitted Robinson as its top pick for the one regular board slot. Joseph Karey, who was the attorney to the election board, was the second name. The central committee rounded out its recommendations with Neuman, thinking that she would not be picked.

Read more on my Insider Politics blog at Patch.

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Kamenetz: County needs $15.8 m to save nearly 200 positions.



County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said finding money to restore nearly 200 teaching positions slated to fall to the budget ax may be difficult given cuts in state.

“I appreciate the efforts of the General Assembly to identify additional funds,” he said. “However, the funds don’t offset the additional costs passed down (from the state) to Baltimore County.”

More than a dozen legislators sent Kamenetz a letter Tuesday asking him to use additional funds added to the Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed 2012 budget to prevent the expected reduction of teachers.

Kamenetz said restoring the positions to the budget, when he announces it two weeks, will cost $15.8 million.

Decreased aid for schools and costs passed on to the county from the state make that money harder to find.

Read the full story at Patch.

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Hairston: Criticisms are personal, system is transparent


Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston said in a radio interview that he is “somewhat amused” by charges that the school system is not transparent and that recent criticisms of his administration come from people who have personal issues with him.

“It’s people with a personal agenda,” Hairston said. “It’s people with animosity against the organization or me personally.”

“I believe it’s more personal than anything else,” he said.

The schools superintendent also said his office is open and transparent in its dealings.

“I’m somewhat amused by the allegations,” Hairston said in response to Mitchell’s question about a lack of transparency. “People need to pause for a second and do a bit of research.”

Read the whole story on my Insider Politics Blog at Patch.

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