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Anne Arundel delegation votes to pass transfer tax bill for housing trust fund, holds bill on larger fishing nets

Anne Arundel County Delegates passed a bill that would allow the County Council to up the real estate transfer tax on properties over $1 million, though a last minute amendment exempts affordable housing properties from any increased tax.

The dollars from the increased taxes would flow into an affordable housing trust fund — an effort to subsidize low income or affordable housing.

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House Bill 933, sponsored by Delegation Chair Sandy Bartlett, D-Maryland City, is backed by Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, and Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis Melissa Maddox-Evans. But delegates present at Friday morning’s Zoom meeting were split along party lines. Dels. Brian Chisholm, Seth Howard, Michael Malone, Nic Kipke and Sid Saab all voted against the amendment and the bill.

In a recent op-ed in The Capital, Saab, a Crownsville Republican, wrote that the bill would hurt Anne Arundel County residents. He said he’s always opposed to raising taxes, but a pandemic is the worst time to even consider it.

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The delegation was supposed to vote on House Bill 843, a bill that would allow the use of haul seine’s for fishing in Anne Arundel County with limited restrictions, but Bartlett held the bill without explanation.

The vote of support from the delegation on the transfer tax bill means it’s likely to get ushered through the legislative process in time for crossover day on Monday. It’s a procedural deadline for legislators to get their bills into the opposite chamber. Bills approved after this deadline must go through extra hurdles.

The bill will still need a full vote of support from both the House and the Senate, but lawmakers from other counties usually deferred to the stance of the delegation in what is often called “local courtesy.” The bill passed 8-5 among present delegates Friday.

On second reader in the House Friday afternoon, the transfer tax bill was sent back to committee for more amendments. This could become a barrier to the bill passing before the crossover deadline.

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They also heard a presentation from Anne Arundel County Public Library CEO Skip Auld, in which he outlined the pandemic efforts to continue community engagement and said the library system will be fully reopened on April 12. For months, the library has been operating on an appointment-only basis for in-person visits and relying heavily on curbside pickup and virtual programming.

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