Some thoughts on this year’s General Assembly session in Annapolis:

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The Winners

— As always, Baltimore City comes out of the session with more money than it deserves. Marylanders continue to have to prop up the ailing Baltimore City, and a majority of legislators seem to have no problem with helping the city by burdening residents in other areas of the state. Look no further than the alcohol tax hike revenue, which will be largely directed toward Baltimore, and, of course, remember a percentage of local slots revenue is given to Charm City for no apparent reason, besides the fact it needs it.

— Youth sports programs in Worcester County should see a funding boost, thanks to limited slots finally being approved for fraternal organizations in Worcester County. The bill stipulates that half of the revenue brought in by the slots must be directed to non-profits, many of which give to help support youth sports teams as well as youth scholarships.

— Horse racing will soon get a financial shot in the arm, as the state continues to try and resurrect an industry that has fallen on tough times and may eventually leave Maryland altogether.

— Rural property owners can take a little sigh of relief, but they will need to be aware of what happens in the capital over the summer. During a special summer session is when lawmakers will formally examine the governor’s goal of prohibiting septic systems in large-scale developments. That will have a huge impact on the shore.

— The children of illegal immigrants are celebrating this year. So long as their parents have been paying state taxes for three years and they attend a community college for two years, they will be granted in-state tuition breaks. This bill never should have been introduced and will surely impact many in the years to come, as it takes a seat away from native Marylanders who need that tuition discount to make college affordable over four years.

The Losers

— Shore counties always get hurt whenever the General Assembly convenes, but this year’s damage could be the most severe, as state aid to jurisdictions continues to be decreased to help balance the budget. Eventually, taxes will be raised on the local levels. Wicomico County is considering a 4-cent property tax increase currently. It’s not clear what Worcester will do.

— Advocates of offshore wind should be seriously concerned about its potential today. I think Maryland will eventually approve plans for a wind farm to be built off the coast, but it could be a few years before the legislature comes to terms with the unknowns, largely the per-customer fee and the cost of the infrastructure on land. A summer study session will likely be commenced on this issue.

— While many don’t seem to mind paying the government more, those of us who do resent additional fees and taxes should be quite discouraged in general. A slew of fees were increased, but the alcohol tax is by far the most burdensome.

— Maryland homosexual couples live in one of the most liberal states in the country, but legislators are not primed to extend marriage rights to gay couples just yet. The measure passed the Senate, but failed to get out of a House committee this year. It will be back every year until it’s passed.

The Unknown

— It will be most interesting to observe over the coming months whether the legislature’s abolition of the Liquor Control Board for Worcester County makes a difference for anyone. The situation certainly can’t get any worse, as the LCB is currently ripping off customers with outrageous markups that have no legitimacy.

Government should not be in the liquor business, but Worcester County is saying all the right things these days when it comes to how it’s going to run its new Liquor Control Department. Time will tell whether it’s any good at it, but the feeling seems to be it can only get better as anything will serve as an improvement.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.