House OKs tax break to help cut welfare roll

IN THE LEGISLATURE

March 23, 1995|By Sun staff writer John A. Morris from staff reports.

The House gave preliminary approval yesterday to a plan aimed at moving welfare recipients into jobs.

The proposal, which has been included in an omnibus business tax bill, House Bill 1154, would provide companies with an $1,800 tax credit for each welfare recipient they hire. Businesses could receive another $1,200 credit if they retained the employee for a second year and a $600 credit for a third.

Del. James C. Rosapepe, who proposed the tax credit, said only people who have received welfare for a year or more would be eligible. Welfare recipients would have to work a full year for their employers to receive the credit, the Prince George's County Democrat added.

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has passed a similar measure, Senate Bill 402, which could come before the full Senate today.

Both bills would give additional tax credits to businesses that provide child care to help welfare recipients enter the work force. The tax credit would amount to $600 the first year, $500 the second and $400 the third.

The state fiscal services department estimates the program's first-year cost at a maximum of $3 million, but it would save the state money in its second and third years as more people leave welfare for work.

Paul A. Tiburzi, a Baltimore lobbyist, said 51 companies and associations support the proposal. They include Superfresh supermarkets, Crown Petroleum, Pizza Hut, Wawa Food Markets, Hechinger, the Maryland Hotel and Motel Association and the Restaurant Association of Maryland.

House votes to toughen homebuyer protections

The House unanimously approved tougher penalties yesterday for custom homebuilders who misuse customers' money.

House Bill 780, prompted by cases in which homebuyers have lost up to $60,000 to bankrupt or unscrupulous builders, would make misuse of a homebuyer's money a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Del. A. Wade Kach, who represents northern Baltimore County, also would require that customers receive lien releases from subcontractors showing they have been paid.

Vote to cut income tax fails along party lines

Republicans forced a vote on a personal income-tax cut in the House yesterday in hopes of using the results against Democrats in the 1998 statewide election.

As expected, the vote broke almost completely along party lines: 99 Democrats voted against a 6 percent income tax cut; 41 Republicans and a lone Democrat, Del. Richard N. Dixon of Carroll County, supported it.

"This vote is all about politics," said Del. John Adams Hurson, the Montgomery Democratic House majority leader. "It's all about the 1998 election."

The measure's failure was a foregone conclusion. On Tuesday, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and leaders of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly agreed to delay a tax cut until next year. The governor and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. have said they want to hold off on a tax reduction until they know how cuts by the Republican Congress will affect Maryland.

"This would be imprudent," Baltimore Democratic Del. Howard P. Rawlings said of the proposed tax cut yesterday. "This would be rash and this would be fiscally irresponsible."

But Republicans said the fiscal 1996 budget has more than enough money to pay for the tax cut. "We are sitting on a huge pile of cash," said Del. Robert L. Flanagan, a Howard County Republican.

Most of the Republican delegates ran for office last fall promising a tax cut, and the state GOP vowed revenge against Democrats in yesterday's vote.

Expanded challenges to projects advances

A Senate panel agreed yesterday to broaden citizens' legal rights to challenge projects that they believe threaten health or the environment.

The Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee voted 8-1 in favor of Senate Bill 557, sponsored by Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat.

Currently, citizens can sue to prevent the state from approving a project only if they live next to the site and are more affected by the project than other residents.

The amended bill, backed by environmental groups, would expand that right to citizens who show a project would harm their health or property or damage plant and wildlife within 1.5 miles of their property.

The bill moves to the Senate floor.

Senate OKs help for new governor's budget

The Senate unanimously approved legislation yesterday that would give a newly elected governor the authority to get help from state government in preparing a budget before taking office.

The proposed constitutional amendment also would permit the legislature to extend the deadline for a budget to be submitted to the General Assembly beyond the 10th day of the session.

The Senate also approved a bill prohibiting a lame-duck governor from submitting a state budget at the end of his term.

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