Proposed 'Airbnb bill' could generate up to $1 million in hotel tax revenues, analysis shows

A proposed bill that would impose Baltimore’s 9.5 percent hotel tax on short-term rentals could generate as much as $1 million annually for the city, according to a new fiscal analysis. The Baltimore City Council’s Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the bill, which — in addition to applying the hotel tax to Airbnb-style sites — would limit people’s ability to rent out their properties. The city’s Bureau of the Budget and Management Research wrote in a Tuesday letter to the council that the bill would have a “direct, positive impact” on Baltimore’s finances. (Balt. Sun)

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FCC orders hearing even as Sinclair changes plans to sell TV stations to address concerns about Tribune deal

The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to refer Sinclair Broadcast Group’s $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Media to an administrative hearing despite the companies’ effort earlier Wednesday to address concerns by withdrawing proposals to sell some television stations to Baltimore-area business executives with ties to Sinclair. The FCC announced the vote late Wednesday and said it would release the order Thursday. Sinclair said Wednesday that it was amending its previous station divestiture plan designed to keep the merged company under federal TV ownership limits. (Balt. Sun)

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BWI will receive $3.5 million FAA grant to expand midfield cargo apron

The U.S. Department of Transportation secretary announced on Wednesday that Baltimore-Washington International Airport will receive a $3.5 million grant toward expanding a midfield cargo apron. The federal money will reimburse BWI for adding more deicing areas in the midfield section of the airport. With the additional positions, planes can now deice on the apron in the winter instead of crossing runways and taxiways, ideally making the process safer and faster. Expanding the apron — an area away from the runway where airplanes are parked — allows the airport to accommodate more aircraft activity, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a news release. (Balt. Sun)

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Some Maryland residents will pay more for water under new WSSC pricing system

A new pricing system approved Wednesday by Maryland’s largest water utility will result in lower water and sewer bills for larger households in the Washington suburbs and higher bills for residents who live alone, the utility said. When the changes take effect in July 2019, a three-person home — the most common-sized household — using an average amount of water will see their quarterly bill drop by about $5, according to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. A nine-person home will pay an average of about $80 less per quarter. People living alone will pay an average $8 more per quarter, WSSC officials said. (Wash. Post)

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Marriott is latest company to eliminate plastic straws

Marriott International plans to remove plastic straws and drink stirrers from all of its 6,500 hotels and resorts worldwide by next year. The world's largest hotel company said Wednesday that the move will eliminate approximately 1 billion straws and 250 million stirrers by July 2019. Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott says the year-long timeframe will let hotels deplete their existing supplies and identify alternatives to plastic straws. Customers will be given alternatives upon request. (Balt. Sun)

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Union wants lawmakers to revisit move of prescription drug plan to Medicare

A union that represents some of the state’s retirees is asking Gov. Larry Hogan and other lawmakers to reconsider moving the retiree’s prescription drug plan to the Medicare Part D program next year. Members of the Maryland Classified Employees Association held a rally at their Woodlawn headquarters Wednesday requesting lawmakers call a special session to look at the issue. Union leadership said the switch is going to be cost-prohibitive for many retirees living on fixed incomes. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore firm secures patent for pharma software, aims for market growth

Baltimore's SilcsBio LLC has earned a U.S. patent covering key elements of its drug design software, which it hopes will help validate its technology as unique in the pharmaceutical market. The company's software is sold to and used by pharmaceutical companies to assist in the processes of developing new and patentable drugs. The newly-issued patent covers the algorithms used for a process called site-identification by ligand competitive saturation. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Aldi will open July 26 in former Mars site in Timonium

Discount grocer Aldi will open a store July 26 at a former Mars Super Markets site in Timonium. The new store at Grand York Plaza on York Road is part of the fast-growing German chain’s $3.4 billion investment to expand from nearly 1,800 U.S. stores to 2,500 by the end of 2022. Aldi is known for selling exclusive discounted store brands and keeping its costs and overhead low. The no-frills stores typically have small footprints, open carton displays and a 25 cent cart-rental system that refunds shoppers' quarters when the cart is returned. (Balt. Sun)

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