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Governor O'Malley's Transportation Funding Plan and Death Penalty Repeal Advances In The State Senate
March 5, 2013
Today's the calm before the storm... with highs in the lower 40s, but increasingly cloudy skies. Then tonight: snow. Tomorrow: more snow. And tomorrow night: still more snow. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for central Maryland, starting tonight... Baltimore and areas south could get more than 5 inches of snow. More's possible in areas north and west of the city. And in Frederick County and areas farther west, even more snow's possible -- those areas under a Winter Storm Warning, with 10 to 14 inches of total accumulation in the forecast.
Baltimore Gas and Electric has called in some 500 out-of-state workers to help with any power outages that might happen as a result of the storm. The utility is also telling customers to prepare for the possibility of extended outages.
Governor Martin O'Malley officially introduced a proposal to raise more money for transportation projects to the General Assembly last night. The bill includes higher fares for local MTA buses, the Metro Subway, and the Light Rail. It also includes a complex series of tax changes: it would cut the state's current gas tax by 5 cents a gallon, but impose a sales tax on gas at the wholesale level. Between the two, Marylanders would end up paying about 2 cents more per gallon later this year, and an additional 7 cents or so per gallon next year. The measure would call for another seven-cents a gallon increase in 2015, but that would only take effect if Congress fails to pass a law allowing states to collect sales tax on Internet purchases. In all, the proposal would raise some $3.4 billion over the next five years. O'Malley's plan has the backing of State Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch -- and that makes the Governor "confident" that it'll pass. But stiff opposition is expected from Republicans in Annapolis, who say higher taxes on gas are unfair to consumers. Republicans are endorsing the public transit fare increases, and saying that they may not go far enough.
A bill that would repeal Maryland's death penalty advanced in the State Senate yesterday. Backers of repeal beat back a series of amendments to the measure -- amendments that would have permitted executions in certain circumstances. The Senate could cast a final vote on the repeal bill today... the measure would then move to the House of Delegates, where supporters say there are enough votes to get it passed (via our wire service, the Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun).
Baltimore's homicide rate is up 40-percent since the beginning of the year, when compared to the same period in 2012 (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
In sports news: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco signed his record-breaking contract yesterday. The deal makes Flacco the highest-paid player in NFL history and is reportedly worth just over $120-million over six years. The agreement allowed the Ravens to avoid using the franchise tag on Flacco, which gives the team more room to sign other free agents.
And: The Orioles take on the Toronto Blue Jays today; The O's currently lead the Grapefruit League with a 7-and-2 record this spring.
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