Tag Archives: Prince George’s

Seat Pleasant tax sits unpleasantly on local business owners

Congratulations! You may not have realized it was happening, but your municipality has put you in a special revitalization zone which means the property taxes you owe them will quintuple. That’s the message some suburban Maryland business owners got recently, subject of my recent Cato piece. Excerpt:

Specialists in local and state government policy are full of ideas for business-by-business and location-by-location tinkering with tax rates, both downward (as part of incentive packages to lure relocating businesses) and upward (to finance special public services provided in some zones, such as downtown revitalization). But there is a distinct value in terms of both public legitimacy and the rule of law in having uniform and consistent taxation that does not depend on whether a property owner or business is on the ins or on the outs with the tax-setting authorities.

[cross-posted from Overlawyered]

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In miniature, December 9

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In miniature, August 8

  • MoCo Executive Leggett stifles a plan to make county dealings with labor unions more transparent [Bill Turque, Washington Post]
  • “Shank: Criminal justice overhaul will lead to better outcomes in Maryland” [Herald-Mail]
  • “Why in the world would the P.G. police dept. choose this particular cop to host a ride-along with a reporter?” [Radley Balko]
  • Baltimore’s regulatory blockade: lawsuit challenges grip of historic preservation laws [Nick Zaiac, Market Urbanism]
  • Been there. “Replacing Maryland E-ZPass transponder is not so easy” [Len Lazarick]
  • It’s something [that] shouldn’t be done by either party in any state.” Larry Hogan talks gerrymandering [Danielle Gaines, Frederick News-Post]

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In miniature, March 27

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In miniature, March 21

  • “Maryland legislature mulls new SWAT transparency bill” [Radley Balko, earlier here, here, and here] More: Jason Boisvert;
  • With conservative support, legislature moving to give Child Protective Services more power to keep kids away from parents. What could go wrong? [Frederick News-Post, more about laws named after victims]
  • State should give scandal-plagued Baltimore jail back to city [Van Smith, earlier]
  • “Living rent-free in a $600,000 house is a ‘plight’ only in the sense that at some point you may have to stop.” [Arnold Kling on the Washington Post’s naive Prince George’s County foreclosure series; coverage of Maryland’s unusually lender-hostile foreclosure law at Overlawyered here, here, here, here, here, and here]
  • Veteran cop once feared concealed carry but testifies how “they schooled me” [The Blaze]
  • Sigh: “Maryland Institutes Affirmative Action for Pot Growers” [Roger Clegg]

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“Green in exchange for green”

Joseph Bottum in the Weekly Standard on the tax-credits-for-green-sermons arrangement in Prince George’s County. Earlier here.

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Permeable wall of separation: P.G. churches promised tax break for green sermons

The Washington Post’s reporter, Arelis Hernández, doesn’t seem quite to realize just how outrageous this story is about churches angling for exemptions from a state-mandated stormwater fee in Prince George’s County:

Thomas and other pastors also have agreed to start “green” ministries to maintain the improvements at their churches, and to preach environmentally focused sermons to educate their congregations.

In exchange for the commitments both as to physical upgrades to church property and the right sorts of exhortation addressed to their congregations, the churches are getting very tangible benefits, some coming directly out of the pockets of Prince George’s County taxpayers (emphasis added):

So far, about 30 churches have applied. Forestville Redeemer was the first. They are planning to install rain barrels, build rain gardens, plant trees and, perhaps, replace their blacktop with permeable pavement. The government will cover most of the cost. In return, a fee that was estimated at $744 a year will be reduced to “virtually nothing,” Ortiz said.

Organized churches play a central role in P.G. County politics, so it is not especially surprising to see a special deal cut for them. What we might not have expected was how openly pastors were willing to trade the content of sermons for government cash on the (rain) barrel. More coverage: WBAL, Derek Hunter/Daily Caller, and Ira Stoll, who writes:

But the bigger point is a problem with big government and taxes in general. The more burdensome the taxes are, the greater is the temptation of those crushed by them to trade their freedom and independence for a discount on them, and the more power the government has to dictate behavior. The tax becomes not a way to raise revenue for the government, but a method for exerting control.

Let’s hope religion-in-public-life pundits don’t pull their punches on exactly how bad this sort of deal is. They should be at least as upset as those of us on the secular side.

[cross-posted and adapted from Secular Right]

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In miniature, November 11

  • One reason GOP gained only two Senate seats: “In Maryland’s one-party environment, traditional economic donors that would be inclined to support Republicans (think Comcast) donate to Democrats. Which explains why Jim Mathias, the most vulnerable Democrat in Maryland’s Senate, will face a Republican with less than $50,000 all in to spend. Mathias will have north of $300,000.” [John Gallagher, Seventh State]
  • What Prince George’s County cops can do with impunity [Washington Post editorial via Balko]
  • Dem campaigns in Frederick County included plenty of demonization of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). For those who wish to learn at least learn a little bit about the group firsthand, a couple of links [American Legislator, Facebook account]
  • Internet companies, better think twice about doing business in Maryland since the state has a very special law that one law professor thinks severely restricts your freedom to do customer research [Mike Masnick/TechDirt]
  • “Supreme Court to hear case on right of Maryland to tax out-of-state income” [Ashley Westerman, Maryland Reporter; Comptroller v. Wynne; Joseph Henchman and Chris Stephens, Tax Foundation] More: Washington Post.
  • Unclear on the concept: Baltimore councilman says city should ban plastic grocery bags entirely rather than attach fee to them because Hogan election “showed voters don’t want more taxes” [@lukebroadwater]

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In miniature, July 12

  • Peroutka fallout continues [Jonathan Hutson/Huffington Post, earlier]
  • Hogan is making sense: Hobby Lobby controversy “doesn’t really have anything to do with being Maryland governor,” especially since, under the Supreme Court’s ruling in City of Bourne v. Flores, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in question doesn’t apply to actions of state and local governments;
  • Sociologist David Jernigan, Bloomberg’s guy on alcohol marketing issues at the liberty-unfriendly Johns Hopkins School of Public Health: “I am an advocate. I am an interested scientist. I actually am fairly skeptical of pure objectivity in science…my research questions have always been driven by what the policy opportunities are in the moment or what policy opportunities I can promote by doing research that will support people being able to make change.” [audio on Johns Hopkins site] Two other questions: were JHSPH the ones who dreamed up the “sexual assault” rationale for the new grain alcohol ban? [Tim Mak, Daily Beast] And given how many college officials have backed the relatively liberty-friendly Amethyst Initiative (rethink the 21 drinking age), how does Jernigan’s project get away with “we speak for college officials” ventriloquism?
  • Try a California-style jungle primary? It could hardly be worse than what we’ve got [Blair Lee]
  • Socially conservative Latino church leaders serve as pawns in Prince George’s Democratic infighting [Kim Propeack, Seventh State]
  • State-certified arts and entertainment district in Easton? Some nice benefits but oh, the paperwork [Josh Bollinger, Star-Democrat via Maryland Reporter]
  • See you at Tawes.

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