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General Assembly Wraps with 'Unfinished Business' in Prince George's County

Gale Horton Gay | , WI Staff Writer | 4/18/2012, 3:02 p.m.

However, there were other thorny issues that led to considerable discord and debate--and a lack of passage--including gaming in Prince George's County at National Harbor and the addition of table games at other state casinos.

One legislative observer said that if the special session is convened and education and gaming issues are resolved, "We will have had a phenomenal session. We can't even think of it as being over."

Caldwell said she was disappointed in the state's legislators during this session.

"We all agree that there was a lot of unfinished business. That's disappointing," she said. "Leaders are not setting aside their personal agendas."

Caldwell said a number of issues were settled that benefit businesses in Prince George's County.

She pointed to legislation that failed that would have increased sales tax to scores of additional businesses such as management consultants and tax preparers.

"Small businesses would have been disadvantaged," said Caldwell, adding that they would have had to pass increases on to their customers or absorb it and walk away with less profit. The measure would have put these businesses in a less competitive position than those in other counties, she said.

Other legislation the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce favored was the elimination of the tax on partial property taken by the state through imminent domain for transportation projects, according to Caldwell. The measure passed and Caldwell said it will have a significant impact on a number of Prince George's County residents whose properties likely will be acquired by government entities due to routing of Metro's blue line.

Caldwell also said that while the chamber is in favor of decreasing the corporate income tax rate, it isn't in favor of a decrease taking place at this time due to the state's fiscal situation.

Caldwell added that some legislation the chamber supported, but later failed, still has a positive outcome for residents. For instance, she noted legislation that would have prohibited the sale of alcohol using self-scanning registers. The concern was that underage consumers might attempt to purchase alcohol using these registers to avoid an ID check. However, Caldwell said that stores using these devices have systems in place that require a clerk to interact with the customer before the transaction is completed. She said the proposed legislation died in committee.

If, and when, a special session of the Maryland General Assembly is called, is still up in the air.

"We cannot change the past," said O'Malley in his speech. "We can only change the future. And in many ways, thanks to the work of this session, we are changing that future, for the better. In other ways, unfortunately, we're taking a step back."