Tax break on energy-efficient items proposed

O'Malley would work to repeal state sales levy on such products for 2 periods a year

Maryland Votes 2006

May 19, 2006|By JOHN FRITZE | JOHN FRITZE,SUN REPORTER

Mayor Martin O'Malley, who has made energy conservation a component of his campaign for governor, said yesterday that he would work to repeal the state sales tax on energy-efficient products for several weeks each year, if elected.

Energy-efficient appliances, windows, insulation and other household products that qualify under federal guidelines would be exempt from the state's 5 percent sales tax for at least four weeks a year -- a tax "holiday" intended to promote purchase of those items.

O'Malley's proposal comes weeks after the mayor and his Democratic primary rival, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, unveiled energy platforms to deal with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s 72 percent rate increase, which is expected to go into effect this summer.

"That has caused all of us to think about ... how we can throw ourselves more urgently into the task of conservation," O'Malley said outside a Home Depot store in Dundalk.

Details of how the tax break would work are unclear, but a campaign aide said it would be in effect twice a year and would last at least two weeks each time.

The campaign could not say how much the proposal would cut into the state's sales tax revenue -- which was projected at $3.3 billion this fiscal year.

Jody Couser, a spokeswoman for Duncan, said the proposal was a step in the right direction.

"Part of any solution to the energy crisis must include conservation," Couser said. "We must continue to encourage consumers to conserve energy."

Meanwhile, Republicans noted that a virtually identical measure failed in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly this past session. Legislation was introduced to revive a previous sales tax exemption that had expired.

"Martin O'Malley should not be plagiarizing other people's work and trying to say it is his own," Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane said in a statement. "At least he [is] showing his support of recycling. Unfortunately, he's recycling failed legislation from the General Assembly."

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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