Expanding state sales tax to pay for school improvements would ‘destroy our economy,’ Maryland Gov. Hogan says

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan vowed Thursday to oppose a proposed change in the sales tax that would drop the rate but charge it on an array of services from landscaping to lawyers. “It’s not ever going happen while I’m governor, I can promise you,” the Republican governor said during a State House news conference. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore City Council presses for answers on Youth Fund money

When Baltimore decided to earmark millions of dollars for local youth organizations, the city celebrated. The Children and Youth Fund was designed to funnel taxpayer dollars toward grassroots organizations that work with young people — the kinds of small groups often overlooked by traditional grant programs. But in the more than two years since the first grants were distributed, frustrations have mounted over how the money is doled out. (Balt. Sun)

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Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake named national political co-chair for Bloomberg campaign

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on Thursday named former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as one of his national political co-chairs. In the role, Rawlings-Blake joins several other former mayors: Philadelphia’s Michael Nutter, Miami’s Manny Diaz and Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa. Rawlings-Blake will advise the campaign on policy development and strategy and serve as a national surrogate for Bloomberg. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland Democrats say they’re unlikely to pass Larry Hogan’s signature crime bill, angering the governor

Citing their opposition to mandatory minimum sentences, Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly say they are unlikely to pass Gov. Larry Hogan’s top priority this session ― the Violent Firearms Offender Act ― infuriating the governor who alleges lawmakers aren’t taking shootings in Baltimore seriously. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday, Hogan argued that lawmakers who don’t support his legislation are out of touch with the views of most Marylanders and should step down from their leadership posts. (Balt. Sun)

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Md. small business insurance subsidies seen as too costly

A high price tag could stand in the way of lawmakers’ plans to create a subsidy program to help small businesses purchase health insurance through Maryland’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). Del. Shane E. Pendergrass, D-Howard and chair of the House Health and Government Operations Committee, told supporters she did not want to raise their hopes over a bill with a $17 million price tag. (Daily Record)

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Who is Amy Berman Jackson? Judge in Roger Stone case has Baltimore ties.

Trump loyalist and ally Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, a Baltimore native who has effectively concurred with Attorney General William Barr’s call for a lighter sentencing than what was provided in his Justice Department’s recommendation. Here’s a primer on who Jackson is, why she’s in the news, and how she’s tied to the Baltimore area. (Balt. Sun)

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Bill banning balloon releases passes both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly

Up, up, and away ― no more? With a 92-47 vote in the House of Delegates Thursday, both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly have now voted to ban the intentional release of balloons into the air. The bill, sponsored by Eastern Shore Republican Del. Wayne Hartman, creates a civil fine of up to $250 for the intentional release of a balloon by an organization or an individual who is at least 13 years old. The goal, proponents say, is to the practice of celebratory balloon releases that often leaves litter miles away. (Balt. Sun)

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Democratic leaders push $2.6B sales tax expansion to pay for education plan

Lawmakers will consider a $2.6 billion increase in sales tax revenue as a way to pay for the state’s share of a generational change in public education funding. The plan, expected to be introduced in the House of Delegates Thursday, calls for an expansion of the sales tax to most services while lowering the tax a penny to 5 percent. (Daily Record)

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