Smelser Opposes Taxes

March 17, 1991

ANNAPOLIS — Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard, voted Wednesday against two tax measures intended to raise $76.7 million to balance the fiscal 1992 budget.

The tax proposals were approved by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and will be debated on the Senatefloor.

One proposal would increase the excise tax on cigarettes from 13 to 18 cents and extend the state's 5 percent sales tax to the per-package cost. It is expected to raise $61.1 million in fiscal 1992 and in June, the last month of fiscal 1991. The other measure would extendthe sales tax to food services at colleges and hospitals and to all currently exempt food sales under $1. It is projected to raise $15.6 million.

Smelser says that next year's budget should be balanced by trimming government costs rather than raising taxes. He said he believes deeper cuts can be made in the state bureaucracy and in the amount of money being returned to local governments that could be used for salary increases.

He said he opposes "nuisance taxes," such as the levy on cigarettes.

The House has passed its version of the $11.6 billion budget. It includes extending the sales tax to cigarettesand reducing tax breaks on capital gains, measures designed to raise about $74 million. The measures offset reductions in state aid to counties.

THREE REJECT 2020

ANNAPOLIS -- Three Carroll state legislators voted against the governor's proposed growth management legislation, known as the 2020 bill, in House and Senate committees Thursday.

Both committees killed the bill for this year, referring it for further study during the summer.

Delegates Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, and Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, voted against the bill in the House Environmental Matters Committee. The tally was 18-4.

Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, opposed it in the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee, which rejected the proposal, 10-1.

The bill was the outgrowth of recommendations from the Commission on Growth in the Chesapeake Bay Region, which was charged with determining efficient ways to manage Maryland'sgrowth to the year 2020 and beyond. The commission's proposal is designed to curtail sprawled development, channel growth into existing population centers and protect farmland and natural resources.

The proposal would increase the state's role in monitoring planning and growth in counties.

"The bill was imperfect," said LaMotte, who supports the bill's intent. "There wasn't enough time to put the kind ofwork into it that needed to be done at this late stage of the session."

County officials from across the state, including Carroll commissioners and its planner, objected to the proposal, saying it would infringe with local planning and zoning powers and was being rushed through the system.

Landowners, including many Carroll farmers, also objected, fearing that the plan ultimately would diminish property equity and interfere with property rights.

DRUG BILL KILLED

ANNAPOLIS -- The House Judiciary Committee, by an 18-2 vote, killed a bill Thursday sponsored by Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, that would have authorized courts by impose a fine of up to $5,000 on parents of juveniles who committed drug-related offenses.

QUARRY BILL APPROVED

ANNAPOLIS -- A bill that would require quarry companies to pay for damage to neighbors' properties passed a House committee with amendments late Friday afternoon.

Supporters of the bill realized they probably would have to compromise in order for the legislation topass, said David T. Duree, chairman of the New Windsor Community Action Project, which has pushed for the bill.

The legislation, sponsored by two Carroll delegates, was defeated the last three years.

"We're supporting the bill and will continue to support it," he said.

NEWCAP was part of a five-county coalition working to get the bill passed.

The House Environmental Matters Committee voted 17-3 in favor of the measure. The bill now will go to the House floor for a vote. If it passes, it will be sent to the Senate.

The bill was sponsored by Delegates Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, and Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard.

Elliott sits on the committee, as does Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore. LaMotte also voted forthe bill.

The delegates could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

Duree said he spoke to Dixon and LaMotte after the vote, and they described the amendments to him. One limits the number of counties protected under the bill to Carroll, Baltimore, Frederick and Washington.

The mining industry, which opposed the bill, argued that the issued affected only Carroll County.

Duree said, "We're obviously disappointed all the counties that could be affected aren't included. But compromise is part of the process. We have to be mature about this."

A second amendment provides protection only for houses or buildings that exist when the permit for a mining operation is issued, Duree said.

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