Feds Go Silent Following Airplane Noise Complaints

In response to two petitions filed by the State of Maryland against them regarding flight path issues, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cut off all communication with the DC Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable and the Maryland Aviation Administration.

The petitions, announced late June, seek judicial and administrative review over changes to flight paths which have resulted in many Marylanders agitated over added noise.

From the Attorney General’s release:

The first action is a petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) implementation changes to the approach flight path for Runway 19 at DCA. The second is an administrative petition, filed with the FAA, that requests a supplemental environmental assessment as well as revisions to area navigation routes and procedures for BWI. Attorney General Frosh noted that the FAA failed to conduct the necessary environmental reviews prior to implementing the new flight paths.

WBAL reports:

“If the government will routinely stop communicating with the citizens as soon as they petition the government, it seems something is wrong with that,” said Jesse Chancellor, vice chair of the roundtable. …

Chancellor described the noise as a highway in the sky.


Maryland Joins Three States In SALT Suit

Attorney General Brian Frosh has joined Maryland with Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in suing the federal government over capping the state and local tax (SALT) deduction through last year’s tax reform. The claim alleges that the new $10,000 SALT cap violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the 10th Amendment, which protects states’ rights, according to Governing.

From that coverage:

Calling the deduction cap an “unconstitutional assault” on state governance, the lawsuit accuses the federal government of meddling in state taxation and fiscal policies by making it more difficult for them, politically, to raise revenue if needed.

“The new cap disregards Congress’ hitherto unbroken respect for the states’ distinct and inviolable role in our federalist scheme,” the lawsuit says. “And, as many members of Congress transparently admitted, it deliberately seeks to compel certain states to reduce their public spending.”

In January, Governing interviewed tax law experts who opined that winning a lawsuit just like this would be very difficult.

The New York Times article expresses similar sentiments:

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, was dismissed as a long-shot political stunt by supporters of the new tax code, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it is a practical act of self-defense against an adversarial federal government. …

When it comes to taxing Americans, “Congress can really do what it wants,” said Tax Foundation executive vice president Joseph Bishop-Henchman. “It’s really not much of a case.”

Attorney General Frosh stated:

Eliminating the SALT deduction will jack up taxes for more than half a million Marylanders. It is an attack on state sovereignty. It will reduce funding for local law enforcement and for construction of infrastructure statewide, and it will cripple our ability to educate our kids.

Helpful Links


Maryland Attorney General’s press release

Bethesda Magazine coverage

Governing coverage

New York Times coverage

IRS to 501(c)s: Keep Your Irrelevant Donor Data

The IRS has announced that it is no longer requiring 501(c) organizations, other than 501(c)(3) charitable non-profits, to report lists of their donors. The new rule means that issue advocacy groups, labor unions, veterans groups, political organizations, and other 501(c) non-profits will no longer have to  proactively disclose their contributors to the IRS.

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The change does not affect 501(c)(3)s, as the IRS still needs the lists of donors entitled to claim charitable income tax deductions. Since the deduction is not available for contributions to political campaigns and other 501(c)s, however, the IRS does not need this information.

According to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin:

Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area. It is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency.  The same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.  The IRS’s new policy for certain tax-exempt organizations will make our tax system simpler and less susceptible to abuse.

It might deserve noting that the requirement elimination has no bearing on any state or federal campaign finance disclosure requirements. That’s a completely different issue.

The IRS press release is available here. Formal guidance is here.

WMATA Strike Threat + Big Ballgame = OMG, Traffic!

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 members have authorized a strike against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) – a move which could leave All-Star Game attendees at Nationals Park in the lurch, and obviously, significantly impact traffic in the D.C. metropolitan region. metro-station-398840__340

According to a union press release, organization officials are meeting with WMATA management on Tuesday to

have a genuine conversation about the issues that got us to this point. it is not our intention to disrupt the MLB All-Star Game[.]

The union last voted to strike in 1978, “resulting in a weeklong ‘wildcat’ strike,” according to Progressive Railroading.

Single-payer Health Care Carries Hefty Price Tag

The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) estimates that State-sponsored health care could cost the State’s general fund as much as $24 billion annually, according to The Baltimore Sun. For perspective, the State’s general operating budget is $44 billion.

The report, which at this time is not available online, has sparked a firestorm between gubernatorial candidates Ben Jealous and incumbent Governor Larry Hogan. Jealous contends that the analysis is inaccurate, or at least premature, according to the Sun. Meanwhile, Hogan’s campaign spokesperson called Jealous’ plan for State-sponsored health care “dangerously irresponsible, unaffordable and unworkable.”

National Nurses United, a union supporting Jealous, estimates that a single-payer system would save the average resident about 10.5 percent a year. It also would provide coverage for nearly 400,000 state residents who currently go without health insurance.

On the other hand, Gene M. Ransom III, CEO of the Maryland State Medical Society – which represents Maryland doctors – told The Sun that

…. he worries about the disruption caused by a shift toward a single-payer system. He thinks it will cost much more than the state analysts say.

“I have a small percentage of doctors who really want to do single-payer,” he said. “I have more who don’t. This would be a major, major change. I’m really worried about these practical aspects.”

Such a change would inevitably result in a change to the State’s tax scheme to pay for it – perhaps either higher sales taxes, a new payroll tax, or fees charged for the service – or some combination of a variety of menu items.

Read the article here.

Hear Jealous and Hogan directly on issues like health care reform at the MACo Summer Conference Gubernatorial Candidates Forum, on Saturday morning, August 18 at 11:30 a.m.

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:


DLS: What Our Last Session Costs Us

Legislation passed this year could end up costing the State up to $808.8 million by fiscal 2023, according to a new report by the Department of Legislative Services (DLS).

Legislation passed during the 2018 session (excluding the operating and capital budget bills) is anticipated to result in a net decrease in general fund revenues by $319.7 million. General fund expenditures are anticipated to decrease by $184.6 million in fiscal 2019, mitigating the effects of the decreased revenue stream and resulting in a net negative impact of $135.1 million.

Interestingly, the report features a section on the costs of new State mandates on local governments. DLS counts 22 new mandates on local governments as a result of the 2018 legislative session. A “mandate” is defined as “a directive in a bill requiring a local government unit to perform a task or assume a responsibility that has a discernible fiscal impact on the local government unit[.]”

The report also lists all bills that passed which may affect local government revenues, all bills impacting local government expenditures,  and whether those bills assert mandates, or not.

Interested in revenue forecasting? Find out how revenue estimating experts at the State and County levels “predict the future” at the MACo Summer Conference session, “Navigating Murky Waters: Predicting Unpredictable Revenue Streams.

MACo’s 2018 Summer Conference will be held Aug. 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center, in Ocean City, MD.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

The Wealth in our Water at #MACoCon

Maryland’s cup runneth over with water-related riches. At the MACo Summer Conference general session, “The Wealth in our Water,” learn about how Maryland’s waterfront keeps our economy flowing – from tiny oysters to supersized ships. port ship

  • General Session Title: The Wealth in Our Water
  • Description: Water has historically played – and continues to play – an enormous role in driving Maryland’s economy. In some ways, this is obvious…just a look outside the Ocean City Convention Center demonstrates the significant tourism draw of Maryland’s beaches and other waterview destinations. During this general session, experts will illustrate just how much we rely on water to cultivate economic opportunity – from our delicious aquaculture and gorgeous tourism offerings to the regional economic engine that is the Port of Baltimore. Find out how counties can tap into these resources in an “all ships rise” approach to Maryland’s water-driven economy.
  • Speakers:
    • Dominic Scurti, Manager, Market Planning, Maryland Port Administration
    • Andrea Vernot, President & Managing Partner, Choptank Communications
    • Ward Slacum, Director of Program Operations, Oyster Recovery Partnership
  • Moderator: The Honorable Stephen Hershey, Maryland State Senate
  • Date/Time: Thursday, August 16, 2018; 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm*

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

*new date and time from previously advertised.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Finance, Infrastructure Among Local Priorities

In a survey of county and municipal local government officials, 181 elected, appointed an high-level career local government civil servants ranked “Taxation, Finance, and Budget” as their highest priority for the future success of their jurisdictions, followed by “Economic Development” and “Infrastructure/Transportation.”

The survey was conducted by Route Fifty. About 35 percent of respondents worked for county governments (or their states’ equivalent), and 63 percent of respondents worked for municipalities.

The survey acknowledged differing priorities among smaller and larger jurisdictions, as well as career service officials versus elected ones. From Route Fifty:

The type of jurisdiction that respondents served, as well as their career paths into public service, appeared to influence individuals’ priorities.

Career government officials, for instance, prioritized infrastructure and transportation more than their political counterparts did. They were also more likely to prioritize diversity, inclusion and citizen engagement than elected officials and political appointees.

Find the survey results here.

Anne Arundel to Roll Out Bike Share

Bike sharing is coming to Anne Arundel County.

bicycles-737190_1920The County and City of Annapolis have teamed up to roll out the new program, tentatively planned for August 2018. According to Eye on Annapolis, there will be 10 stations in the city.

County Transportation Director Ramond Robinson had previously initiated a program in Savannah, where he worked before joining Anne Arundel. He hopes to emulate the successes he had there here in Maryland, according to the Capital Gazette.

Other counties with bike share programs include Montgomery, Prince George’s, Baltimore City, and Howard.

Learn more in the Capital Gazette.


Keeping Cars Off the Boards Ain’t Cheap

Safety comes at a price. Unfortunately, Ocean City’s came in four times over budget.

In an effort to protect vehicular attacks on pedestrians on the boardwalk, the town looked into closing off all access points. Originally estimated to cost about $1 million, the plan is now estimated at more than $4.26 million. The town is looking at ways to reduce the cost without undermining utility.

Delmarvanow covers the story:

The project was originally proposed last fall after multiple deliberate attacks on pedestrians involving vehicles occurred in cities across the United States and abroad. In the last four years, at least 15 such attacks have happened around the world, according to USA Today.