Md. Lawmakers OK Sales Tax Bill on Travel Websites
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A measure to clarify the law to require third-party travel websites to pay all required sales tax cleared the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday, after supporters said the websites currently are able to avoid paying the full amount.
The House of Delegates voted 84-56 for a Senate bill, sending it to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Supporters say the bill simply closes a loophole by requiring online travel companies to remit the same amount of sales tax collected from customers as Maryland's hotels do, as they are supposed to do. Now, supporters say, they don't.
"That's not fair to Maryland citizens," Del. Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery, said. "If I'm paying 6 percent tax, I want that 6 percent going to the comptroller."
Steve Shur, president of the Travel Technology Association, said it amounts to a sales tax on services.
"Maryland did it again. They passed a new tax on small businesses," Shur said, referring to supporters of the bill.
In an interview this week, Hogan said he had not decided whether he would sign the bill, saying there were "good arguments on both sides."
"It could be construed as a tax increase, so that's something we're going to have to take a very hard look at," Hogan, who campaigned against tax increases, said an interview with The Associated Press on Monday.
Here is a look at some other action in the General Assembly on Wednesday:
The Legislature approved a measure aimed at stopping fraud and abuse in state and local government. It is designed to help whistleblowers and encourage them to tell the government about fraud committed by private contractors. The state currently has a limited version of the false claims law that applies to cases of Medicaid and health-care related fraud. TRANSGENDER-BIRTH CERTIFICATES
The House gave final approval to a bill to make it easier for transgender residents to get new birth certificates on a 91-49 vote. It allows transgender residents to get new birth certificate, and it does not require them to have undergone surgery to change their gender. The bill also requires the new birth certificate not to be marked as a change in a person's gender, as they are now.
A measure to restore voting rights to ex-felons immediately after their release from prison cleared the General Assembly. They would not have to complete probation and parole to regain voting rights.
FILM TAX CREDIT
Maryland's film tax credit program went through some edits in the Senate. Senators approved a change to extend the program indefinitely, but leave funding to the discretion of the governor. LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
The Senate sent a measure to leave life-without-parole sentences in the hands of a judge back to committee, after lawmakers decided too many important issues were being raised so close to the end of the legislative session, which ends Monday at midnight.