Special Session Day Two: Senate Vote On Tax Bill, Pit Bull Protest

Robert Lang, WBAL

The Maryland Senate is poised to vote on a package of budget measures in a special session.

The Senate is set to take a vote needed to send the legislation to the House of Delegates on Tuesday.

The special session, which began Monday, has been called by Gov. Martin O'Malley to avert about $500 million in cuts triggered by a "doomsday budget" that was triggered when lawmakers failed to pass a package of legislation during the regular 90-day session last month.

The package includes tax increases on people who make more than $100,000 a year and a split of teacher pension costs during the regular 90-day session in April.

It also includes increases on taxes for tobacco products other than cigarettes.

The Senate session is scheduled to begin at 10:30 this morning.

The House of Delegates is likely to begin a floor debate on the bill later today, with a final vote tomorrow.

The Baltimore Sun reports that some Montgomery County Democrats are going to vote against the tax bill, claiming that it is unfair to their constituents.

Montgomery County is the wealthiest county in the state.  A number of lawmakers from Montgomery County are considering an amendment to replace the income tax increase with a an increase in the sales tax rate from 6% to 7%.

Pit Bull Protest Planned

Pit bull owners and their advocates are scheduled to hold a rally today to urge lawmakers to pass a bill to reverse the impact of a Maryland Court of Appeals decision that defined pit bulls as a dangerous breed of dogs, and holds their owners and landlords automatically responsible for any damages or injuries caused by the dogs.

 

There are four separate versions of  the legislation introduced in the House of Delegates. 

A bill has also been introduced in the Senate.

The advocates say the court decision will lead pit bull owners to abandon their dogs, and landlords to evict owners of pit bulls, and the issue cannot wait until lawmakers return to their regular session in January.

Baltimore County Democratic Delegate John Cardin is sponsoring one of the House bills.

"This is an issue that is non-controversial, non-partisan.  It is something for the interest of all Marylanders," Cardin told WBAL News.

Legislative leaders say the bills will not be considered in this week's special session, noting the focus of the session remains budget and tax issues.

One House source told WBAL News that there is the possibility the defendants in the Court of Appeals case will ask the Court to reconsider, and the legislature should wait until that issue is resolved.

The bills have been referred to the House and Senate Rules Committees, and legislative leaders expect them to remain there without a vote.

Proposed Income Tax Changes for Individual Filers

  • For those individuals with an adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $125,000, the income tax rate increases from 4.75% to 5%.
  • For incomes between $125,000 and $150,000, the income tax rate increases from 4.75% to 5.25%
  • For incomes between $150,000 and $250,000, the income tax rate increases from 5% to 5.5%.
  • For incomes $250,000 to $500,000, the income tax rate increases from 5% to 5.75%.
  • For incomes above $500,000, the income tax rate increases from 5.5% to 5.75%.

Proposed Income Tax Changes for Households

  • For those households with an adjusted gross income between $150,000 and $175,000, the income tax rate increases from 4.75% to 5%.
  • For incomes between $175,000 and $225,000, the income tax rate increases from 4.75% to 5.25%.
  • For incomes between $225,000 and $300,000, the income tax rate increases from 5% to 5.5%.
  • For incomes between $300,000 and $500,000, the income tax increase increases from 5% to 5.75%.
  • For incomes above $500,000, the income tax rate increases from 5.5% to 5.75%.