Assembly Digest


January 24, 2004

Acting environment chief gets official nomination

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. formally nominated Kendl P. Philbrick for secretary of the environment yesterday, seeking Senate confirmation for a job that Philbrick has held in an acting capacity since last spring.

The nomination of Philbrick, a former corporate executive, comes less than a year after Ehrlich's first nominee, Lynn Y. Buhl, was rejected for the position. Although Philbrick is likely to face tough questioning, he is expected to win confirmation. A date for the hearing has not been set.

As secretary, Philbrick will be helping to push major portions of Ehrlich's legislative agenda through the Assembly this year, including changes to Maryland's brownfields cleanup law and a $2.50 monthly sewage surcharge for most homeowners to help reduce pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

New bill takes aim at corporate tax loopholes

The General Assembly took a step toward closing corporate tax loopholes yesterday when Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and 27 co-sponsors introduced a bill that would end some commonly used tax-avoidance devices.

With a majority of senators sponsoring the measure, approval appears likely. The bill would prevent companies from shifting assets to shell corporations in Delaware to avoid taxes, and would halt other accounting tricks.

The Multistate Tax Commission reported recently that Maryland loses $208 million in tax revenues each year through use of the accounting devices, and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has proposed closing some loopholes in the budget he submitted this week.

Nonbinding referendum sought on 3rd bay crossing

State Sen. E.J. Pipkin of Queen Anne's County wants voters to weigh in on whether they favor the construction of a third Chesapeake Bay crossing.

Pipkin is proposing placing a nonbinding question on the November general election ballot. It would ask voters: "Do you favor the construction of and commitment of state resources to fund a third Chesapeake Bay bridge crossing?"

A majority of positive responses would not authorize construction of the decade-long project, which could cost up to $3 billion, the senator said, but it could lead to the creation of a task force to select a location for the span.

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