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Archive for June, 2013

Howard County Delays “Rain Tax” Implementation

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Ken Ulman’s hardship relief is itself a hardship

WBAL is reporting that Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will not start collecting the “Rain Tax” starting July 1 as had been scheduled. Citizens of Howard County had been outraged by the Howard County Council version of the mandatory fee increase (read: Tax) known officially as the Watershed Protection and Restoration Plan.

At last month’s County Council meeting, many residents showed up in opposition of the 4-1 Council’s support for the highest rain tax rate for the whole state. Some churches and other non-profits might have to pay up to $30,000 in taxes. Single family homeowners would have to pay anywhere from $100-200 for an average size house. Councilman Greg Fox reported that some homeowners were over $200, with some even as high as $1000.

The County Executive admitted that they expected some businesses and non-profits would experience hardships because of the Rain Tax that is supposed to start on July 1st, 2013. Ulman is now saying that they will look after those businesses and non-profits that will experience a hardship. But the hardship relief itself is a hardship. Imagine having to prove to a County bureaucrat that your business can’t afford to pay the new rain tax. Imagine having some county worker examine your books and then arbitrarily decide if you can afford the tax. Businesses should not have to beg the county to go easy on them!

Ken Ulman thinks that if he can charge residents a smaller fee of $15 to $90 a year (townhouses and single family houses respectively), that the average citizen will just rollover and take the new tax. He must believe that businesses can just take the new Rain Tax in stride. In some estimations, larger churches who have large parking lots and large roofs will be unfairly taxed to the tune of $10,000-30,000. So Ulman’s new solution is to limit the tax to 25% of their annual property tax bill which could still cost $1,000s. Ulman’s plan does not propose any cap to limit the highest amount of tax for any group, homeowner or business.

I have a solution to Ken Ulman’s hardship problem, give every business a lower Rain tax. How about $250 for religious organizations and non-profits, and $500 for-profit companies who revenue exceeds a certain dollar amount.

Ken Ulman has stated that the new bill will need to pass the County Council, and he is pushing to have it go into effect on December 1st. The county’s “Impervious Surface Calculator” has seemingly been removed from their website.

NSA/FBI Collecting and Storing Internet Usage

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The Federal Govt. is spying on your email, video, chat, pictures, Skype sessions, internet usage. The NSA and FBI are collecting ALL of your information, and have been for 3 years. They are copying the data and storing it. This includes Google, Facebook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Skype, Gmail, AOL, YouTube, and that is just what we know so far. It is a damn shame that this is allowed to happen. This must not continue!

Basically all of the tech giants are allowing direct access to user’s data. Direct access means that they are asking for the data, they aren’t getting a court order, it means that they get real-time access to the data for everyone. The government is then copying the data to their own servers so that they can monitor and assess the records for every citizen in the United States. The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. is reporting that the secret government program is called PRISM.

Source: Guardian (U.K.)

2016 Elections

Primary - 4/5/2016
General - 11/8/2016

Races to Watch

U.S. Senate

Barbara Mikulski (D) is retiring.

Top (D) Candidates
Donna Edwards
Chris Van Hollen

All 8 House Seats are up for election.

Current Representatives
1st - Andy Harris (R)

2nd - Dutch Reppersberger (D)

3rd - John Sarbanes (D)
Top candidates Dr. Mark Plaster (R).

4th - Donna Edwards (D) - running for Senate
Top candidates Anthony Brown (D), Glenn Ivey (D), George McDermott (?)

5th - Steny Hoyer (D)

6th - John Delaney (D) - may run for Senate
Top (R) candidates David Vogt (R), Kathy Afzali (R), Neil Parrott (R), Mike McKay (R).

7th - Elijah Cummings (D) - may run for Senate
Top candidates Calvin Ball (D), Corrogan Vaughn (R).

8th - Chris Van Hollen (D) - running for Senate
Top (D) candidates Kumar Barve, Valerie Ervin, Kathleen Mattews, Jamie Raskin
Top (R) candidates Frank Howard - potential