On the first day of Maryland's 2012 General Assembly, Gov. Martin O'Malley ruffled feathers by suggesting an increase to the state's sales tax.
He said raising the sales tax from six percent up to seven would help patch holes in the state's operating budget, and help it pay for transportation projects.
From the Baltimore Sun: "If I had my druthers, I'd rather do the one penny on the sales tax," O'Malley said during a radio interview before an audience in Annapolis. "That's what I'd like to do. … That one penny could solve the problem."
An aide later said that the statement was just an idea, not a commitment.
While the comment had some Democrats scratching their heads, Republicans responded with rancor.
“It’s repulsive, and I mean that sincerely,” Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin told the Washington Post. “The pain for working-class families is palpable, so the fact the governor would even float the idea of a sales-tax increase as a possibility is unbelievable. What universe is he living in?”
- Meanwhile, in Republican-controlled Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell kept preaching peace between the parties in his state of the Commonwealth speech.
An excerpt from the speech, via the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Over these past two years, we have shown that while we hail from diverse regions, align with different political parties and subscribe to competing philosophies, we can still come together to make progress on the issues important to our 8 million people."
Just a day before, McDonnell was telling members of his party "don't be arrogant" as lawmakers looked forward to pushing a conservative agenda with control of both the state's legislative and executive branches.
- Those conciliatory words are easy to say for the leader of a party that just ruled power sharing out in the state senate. On the first day of the 2012 General Assembly, Republicans shot down a motion by Virginia Democrats to split senate committee appointments evenly, in light of the 20-20 split.
The motion gave Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling his first chance as senate president to cast a tie-breaking vote, which he used to shoot down the power-sharing plan.
But that vote might just revive the Democrat's previous challenge to Bolling's power to vote in the senate. A judge threw an earlier lawsuit out as premature because at the time, Bolling had yet to exercise the voting power Democrats had sought to bar. Stay tuned.
- D.C. statehood advocates have friends in New Hampshire.
"I realized that the District of Columbia is the size of Vermont and, in fact, is half the size of New Hampshire," Cindy Rosenwald, a Democratic New Hampshire state representative told WAMU. "I could not imagine disenfranchising half of New Hampshire's population or all of Vermont. It doesn’t seem fair."
She's among supporters in the New Hampshire legislature that would support a state resolution endorsing D.C. statehood.
Mayor Vincent Gray and a handful of council members had plans to travel to the Granite State to support a New Hampshire resolution endorsing District statehood.
Gray's trip has been delayed because of snow in New Hampshire, but other D.C. statehood activists are heading north by car.