O'Malley to sign tax hike, arsenic ban, ethics bill

May 22, 2012|By Michael Dresser, Baltimore Sun

Gov.Martin O'Malley will sign bills doing everything from raising income taxes to banning arsenic from chicken feed Tuesday as he closes out the business of the 90-day General Assembly session and the special session that followed it.

Joined by House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, O'Malley will hold a marathon ceremony during which he will sign hundreds of bills into law. They include the two budget-related measures that died on the last day of the regular session, prompting O'Malley to call the special session that ended last Wednesday. One of the bills raises income tax on the roughly 14 percent of Marylanders who make $100,000 or more as individuals or $150,000 as couples. The other begins a phased-in shift of some teacher pension costs from the state to the counties. Passage of the two measures will allow the state to avert more than $500 milion in cuts to such programs as education, Medicaid and law enforcement.

Another bill O'Malley said Monday that he will sign is the nation's first state ban on the use of arsenic in chicken feed. Also on the signing list is a measure that will exempt the first $5 million of value in a family farm from the estate tax -- a bill intended to keep farm families on the land after the death of a relative.

The governor will sign several bills of particular interest in Baltimore, including one moving city elections from odd years to the presidential election year.

 Another bill to be signed would prevent ground lease owners from collecting rents unless their leases are registered with the state. Also on the list is a measure that will require the State Ethics Commission to post the ethics disclosures filed by legislators and other high elected officials online. Currently, people who want to examine those disclosures have to go to Anapolis to see them.

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