Look Out! Maryland Looking To Plug “Revenue Leakage”.

As a general rule, Marylanders should always be on guard when they hear the phrase “tax fairness” or “tax simplification” from the Democrat leadership in Annapolis.  It was similar phrases that ushered in the largest tax increase in Maryland’s history just a few short years ago.  In an atmosphere where there is allegedly little appetite for any tax increases we find HB 337 – Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which has a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, February 18th.  While pitched as a bill about fairness and accountability it is actually little more than a back-door tax increase.  The ultimate goal of this bill is to force online retailers and catalog companies to collect and remit Maryland sales tax even if they have no physical presence in the state. 

Legislators who are proponents of this bill will tell you this is pro-businesses legislation – interesting since these are the same people whose tax policies caused Maryland’s business climate ranking to drop from 24th to 45th in less than a year.  If you want to see what this type of legislation does to business you need only look a bit north to New York who passed similar legislation this summer.  Overstock.com pulled all of it’s business out of the state almost immediately and Amazon.com is fighting the law in court – that is how pro-business this type of legislation is.

The truth about this bill is that tax-and-spend liberals are salivating at an opportunity to capture what they consider “revenue leakage”.  Estimates of exactly how much revenue is leaking vary widely.  Supporters of this type of legislation say that nationally the range is $19-$27 billion while others put the number much lower $3.2-$4.5 billion.  In Maryland, the number sits at just over $500 million – half a billion dollars in additional taxes foisted on the citizens of Maryland if this bill moves forward.  Once this frenzy of catching “revenue leakage” begins, where does it end?  Will we be putting agents from the Comptroller’s office at the Maryland/Delaware border to make sure everyone pays their “fair share”?   

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Today is the 200th birthday of one of America’s greatest leaders: Abraham Lincoln.  This giant of a man (both figuratively and literally) earned his status in the exclusive Mount Rushmore Club by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, winning the Civil War, and offering two examples of brilliant American rhetoric: the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address.

If you are in the D.C. area today, take a walk up to the Lincoln Memorial and read those two fantastic speeches yourself!

Here’s wishing a very fond happy birthday to America’s first Republican chief magistrate, Abraham Lincoln!

Defending the Electoral College

The Electoral College was established by the founding fathers as a compromise between a direct election of the President by popular vote and an election by Congress. They were particularly concerned, when drafting the Constitution of the new United States of America, that self-governance and minority interests be protected. The Constitutional Convention considered several methods of selecting a president – two proposals were to have Congress or the state legislatures choose the president. Both were rejected because of the possibilities of political bargaining, corruption, or the erosion of federal authority. A third idea was direct election of the President by the voters of the several states – this method was rejected because at worst, no candidate would emerge with a popular majority sufficient to govern the whole country. At best , the Presidential race would always be decided by the largest, most populous states with little regard for the smaller ones.

In 2007, Maryland became one of four states to enact the “Agreement  Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote”. This agreement is the result of a campaign designed to do an end run around the Constitution of the United States.

The terms of the agreement are simple: states enacting the compact agree to award their votes in the Electoral College for president to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the outcome of the election within the boundaries of that state. Once enough states to constitute a majority of electors in the Electoral College (270) enact the compact, it goes into effect.

There have been over 1,000 proposed amendments to the Constitution affecting the Electoral College- only one has ever passed. The 12th amendment was enacted in 1804 and resulted in our modern system of a presidential and vice-presidential candidates running together as a ticket.

Currently, Maryland awards its electoral votes to the candidate receiving a plurality of votes in Maryland, as certified by the Maryland State Board of Elections. Thus, in 2004, Maryland’s 10 electoral votes went to John Kerry, who won approximately 56% of the vote in Maryland. However, under the terms of the Agreement, those 10 electoral votes would have been awarded to George W. Bush… it’s assumed. There is no “United States Board of Elections” to determine the winner of the national popular vote – a simple Google search for national popular vote results for any of the recent Presidential elections will reveal different numbers on every page cited. Nor is there any sort of apparatus in place for handling a recount on a national level – states have procedures and personnel in place to handle election disputes.

Five times since 1948, Maryland voters have preferred, and their electoral votes were awarded to, the candidate who ultimately lost the election.

Maryland citizens cast their votes on election day expecting that their duly elected representatives – the electors of Maryland – will be faithful to their duty to cast their own votes in the manner Maryland wished. In entering into this agreement, the Maryland government is ensuring that their electors will be faithless.

Delegate Anthony O’Donnell has introduced a bill to repeal Maryland’s participation in this agreement. House Bill 472 is before the House Ways and Means committee - please let your elected officials know that you support Delegate O’Donnell in his efforts to maintain a Constitutional Presidential election process in Maryland.