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MD Senate Overrides Vetoes of Education, Digital Tax Bills

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The state Senate voted mostly on party lines Friday to override 17 of Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes of bills passed last year. The most controversial among them include a massive overhaul of education and taxes on digital products, digital advertising and tobacco.

The action, coming on the heels of the House of Delegates’ override votes on those bills, means they will become law in 30 days.

Republicans argued the education bill, known as “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” or “Kirwan,” would cost too much at a time when Marylanders already are hurting financially from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Justin Ready, a Carroll County Republican, said it would result in a massive increase in spending “on top of billions that we spend every year on K-12 education.”

However, Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat who chairs the Senate’s education committee, said the choice was between maintaining the status quo in education or moving forward.

“The action by the governor vetoing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future was an action that spoke to mediocrity,” he said.

Republicans argued the tax on digital advertising — the first of its kind in the nation — and increasing the tobacco tax would hurt small businesses. And they said the tax on digital products would hurt Marylanders already hurt by the pandemic. 

Democrats said the digital advertising tax was aimed at tech giants like Google and Facebook, and the tobacco tax increase would discourage young people from smoking. 

They said the tax on digital products is not a new tax, but a modernization of the existing sales tax.

 

For example, the sales tax now applies to books or DVDs sold in brick and mortar stores, but not to e-books or renting a movie digitally. The bill extends the sales tax to apply to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu; e-books; music downloads; digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions; and even internet greeting cards. 

 

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