Legislature starts debate over leadership's estate tax idea

Maryland’s “death tax” is imposed on the transfer of property from the estate of the deceased, if that estate is greater than $1 million for an individual or $2 million for a married couple. The rate is as high as 16 percent. Now, with an election coming in November, state lawmakers are considering proposals to give taxpayers a break. (Capital)

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Md. gubernatorial hopeful Mizeur introduces bill that would decriminalize marijuana

As a candidate for governor of Maryland, Democratic hopeful Heather R. Mizeur is pushing a plan to legalize marijuana. In her current job as a state delegate, she introduced legislation this week that doesn’t go quite that far. Under the bill filed by Mizeur (D-Montgomery), those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would still be sanctioned — but they would be subject to only a civil fine of $100 rather than criminal penalties. Those under 21 could also be sent to drug education classes. (Wash. Post)

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Gansler proposes 50 percent discount for frequent users of Intercounty Connector

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Douglas F. Gansler proposed a 50 percent discount Friday for regular commuters on the Intercounty Connector, arguing that the lower toll would draw more motorists to the underutilized highway. Under Gansler’s plan, commuters who make at least 15 trips a month on the ICC would be eligible for the discount, which he said would be comparable to existing breaks for drivers who frequently use the Harbor Tunnel in Baltimore and the Bay Bridge. (Wash. Post)

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General Assembly Steps Into Baltimore Speed Camera Controversy

The General Assembly is stepping into the Baltimore speed camera controversy. Pat Warren explains a number of delegates think it’s time to make the camera companies pay for their mistakes. An audit of the accuracy of Baltimore City’s speed cameras has council members at odds with the mayor. (WJZ-TV)

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Arundel councilman releases Schuh, Neuman political questionnaires

Questionnaires filled out by Republicans Laura Neuman and Steve Schuh when they were vying for Anne Arundel County executive a year ago have been released by a member of the County Council. Councilman Jamie Benoit, a Democrat, released the questionnaires, which cover a host of topics, from personal backgrounds to positions on county finances, business development and thoughts on working with the school system. (Balt. Sun)

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Feb. 7 // Joint panel to oversee health exchange

Top Democrats in the House of Delegates and the Senate on Thursday announced the establishment of a process for ongoing legislative oversight of the troubled Maryland Health Benefits Exchange. The 10-member panel will be led by House Government Operations Chairman Del. Peter A. Hammen, D-Baltimore, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton, D-Charles. During the General Assembly session, it will focus on efforts to resolve problems with the state’s health insurance website. After the session ends in April, the joint committee will focus on why the website failed to launch properly. (Daily Record)

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Governor O'Malley says he'll veto chicken tax bill

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said Thursday if the legislature passes a five-cent tax on chickens grown in the state he'll veto it. His remarks came during the annual Taste of Maryland dinner and were reported by the Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter. “Because the governor recognizes that agriculture is our number one industry, he’s worked incredibly hard to balance the needs of Maryland’s agriculture industry with our need to protect the Bay,” O’Malley press secretary Nina Smith said. “The governor did not feel the chicken tax would actually help to strike that balance, so I’m assuming as a result he decided he would veto it.” (Daily Times)

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Senate passes expanded needle exchange program

A decision in the state Senate is fueling controversy surrounding drug use. The Senate passed a Baltimore City-sponsored bill on Thursday to expand its needle exchange program. A high-profile fatal overdose and a deadly heroin cocktail have some people questioning the wisdom of giving drug addicts unlimited clean needles. (WBAL-TV)

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