3-17-10: Legislative Lightning Round

March 16, 2010 at 5:44 pm 14 comments

As of Tuesday, the Maryland General Assembly had introduced 2,692 pieces of legislation this session. Last week, our producers looked at Wednesday’s hearing schedule and found 95 bills up for consideration. That’s just for Wednesday. In order to make sense of all those bills floating around Annapolis, we’re bringing you a new feature: the Legislative Lightning Round.

Here’s how it works. We chose five bills that hadn’t generated heavy news coverage, but looked like they had room for debate. We called the bills’ sponsors and gave them 60 seconds to tell us what the bill would do and why it’s a good idea. If we found an opponent, they got 60 seconds, too.  We enforced the time limit with a stopwatch and a bell (see above).

Today we listen to the pros and cons of a “Move Your Money” measure, the “slumlord tax,” official recognition of the English language, military recruiting among high schoolers, and an effort to regulate scrap metal sales.

The bills, their sponsors, and their opponents are listed below. You can tell us what you think about these bills by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.

Legislative Lightning Round for Wednesday, March 17, 2010:

House Bill 1325: State and Local Government Procurement – Banking and Financial Services – Preference for State Financial Institutions

Senate Bill 889: Baltimore City – Property Taxes – Vacant and Uninhabitable Real Property

The Mayor declined to respond on the air, her staff sent this statement:

“The Baltimore City Administration shares with the sponsors of this legislation, Delegates Hammen, Krysiak, and McHale, the worthy goal of eliminating uninhabitable and abandoned properties that blights [sic] too many of the neighborhoods in our City. We commend their efforts to equip the City with new tools to address this problem in a comprehensive manner. While we do not concur with the concept proposed in House Bill 1096, the Baltimore City Administration pledges to work with the sponsors to identify an effective strategy that will relieve the communities they represent from the scourge of boarded and dilapidated buildings.

We believe that a universal application of a penalty such as a specific tax rate as proposed in House Bill 1096 would contradict the business model employed in distressed areas by both non-profits and for-profit developers alike to acquire inventory and hold properties until they possess enough properties on a specific block or neighborhood to commence redevelopment. Our further concern is that the legislation may have negative public policy implications by harming certain property owners for situations beyond their control such as owning property adjacent to City owned vacant buildings and collapsing privately-held abandoned property. Almost 17,000 vacant properties are owned by either the Mayor and City Council or the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. Finally, the proposed legislation would have no impact on the significant number of privately held vacant properties that are either tax-exempt or currently not paying taxes.”

House Bill 1020: Harford County – English Language, Formal Recognition
House Bill 865: Baltimore County – English Language, Formal Recognition

Senate Bill 778: Public Schools – Student Information – Availability to Military Recruiters

House Bill 1174: Junk Dealers and Scrap Metal Processors – Required Records

Entry filed under: Annapolis, On Air, Policy, Politics. Tags: , , .

3-17-10: When Cockeysville Was Texas…and Irish 3-19-10: “Mrs. Kemble’s Tempest”

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael  |  March 17, 2010 at 8:48 am

    In reference to Senate Bill 889: Baltimore City – Property Taxes – Vacant and Uninhabitable Real Property.

    The Mayor makes a telling statement “Almost 17,000 vacant properties are owned by either the Mayor and City Council or the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.” How can we expect private parties to address a problem that the city is unwilling to deal with. Why are these derelict buildings still standing? Why isn’t the city clearing its blight as an example and an incentive to the rest of the community?

    At this point, any legislation that forces people to address Baltimore’s derelict building epidemic is welcome. Why doesn’t the Mayor request an amendment that would allow for waivers for parties that can prove a plan for redevelopment within a set period of time? She should work with the legislature, instead of rejecting their attempt to fix the problem.

  • 2. Summer  |  March 17, 2010 at 9:14 am

    The Mayor doesn’t seem to realize she’s fighting the wrong fight, in regards to SB 889. Della points it out himself. This bill is merely a tool to ALLOW the city to change the tax structure. It does not itself change the tax structure, nor does it demand that the city do it. The Mayor was part of the City Council that UNANIMOUSLY passed the resolution requesting this bill, but NOW she’s against it? Makes me wonder who she’s taking orders from. She has clearly not been paying attention.

    SB 889 is a good idea, plain and simple.

  • 3. Move Your Money » Blog Archive » Maryland’s Bill  |  March 17, 2010 at 9:15 am

    […] banks that have been hurting consumers for decades and into our community banks.” Listen here. Posted in Uncategorized Time2Talk The Wall Street […]

  • 4. MCG  |  March 17, 2010 at 10:11 am

    My guess is that the Baltimore City housing commissioner is influencing Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s opposition to the bill. The commissioner views this legislation as an indictment of his office instead of seeing it as another useful tool in combating housing blight across the city.

  • 5. slumlordwatch  |  March 17, 2010 at 10:53 am

    We agree with MCG’s assessment — and may I also add, Baltimore City has a long-standing “tradition” of sweeping problems under the carpet and praying they’ll go away.

    Unfortunately, they’re still trying to do this with the City’s vacant housing problem, and instead of using new ways to deal with it — they want to keep things business as usual.

    We hope the Mayor stops her campaign against this valuable bill, for the good of Baltimore’s tax-paying law-abiding property owners.

  • […] Listen to Senator Della’s piece here (scroll down to Senate Bill 889: Baltimore City – Property Taxes – Vacant and Uninhabitable Real Property, For:  Sen. George Della (D – Baltimore City) […]

  • 7. Julia  |  March 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    love the fade-out when they go over

  • 8. Mchenry  |  March 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    DC’s attempt at a multi level property tax structure.


  • 9. BSLW  |  March 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    The Washington Times did a piece on DC’s property tax bill — here is our response, and a link to their article:


  • 10. Nicole  |  March 17, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I agree with Michael above regarding SB889. This is only part of the story, but it was a real education for me to learn,while trying to acquire property in Baltimore, that the money of unscrupulous investors is suppressing redevelopment in the City. I wanted to buy and renovate a property that was suitable for my purposes, but was outbid at auction by a speculator who had no intention of doing ANYTHING with the crumbling structure; he just intended to hold onto it in the hope that owners around him would redevelop their parcels and he could sell his miserable lot for a profit. This very common practice needs to stop, or at a minimum be strongly disincentivized. The tax rate differentiation authority proposed in the legislation would help, and the Mayor’s concerns should be addressable through amendments. Baltimore needs more strategies to address this enormous problem; please help.

  • 11. MCG  |  March 17, 2010 at 10:30 pm


    The DC City Council eventually reinstated the multi-level property tax structure. They temporarily repealed it because the original law did not distinguish between “vacant and habitable” and “vacant and uninhabitable” properties. The Maryland version of this law only targets vacant, abandoned, AND uninhabitable properties.

  • 12. MOVE YOUR MONEY « Legislator at Law  |  March 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    […] and into local lenders.  The bill has been featured in the Sun, the Wall Street Journal, and on Maryland Morning on WYPR.  The bill is currently being heard by the House Committee on Health and Government Operations – […]

  • […] and into local lenders. The bill has been featured in the Sun, the Wall Street Journal, and on Maryland Morning on WYPR. The bill is currently being heard by the House Committee on Health and Government Operations […]

  • […] the last Legislative Lightning Round? Take a listen. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)3-17-10: Legislative Lightning RoundNo […]


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