The following testimony was presented by Cindy Sharretts to the Aberdeen City Council. She provided a copy to The Dagger for publication:
There is an attempt in the Maryland General Assembly to put Aberdeen in a position where it will not refuse a certain responsibility that it does not want. It is House Bill 584 sponsored by Delegate Mary-Dulany James.
HB584 is coercion. To receive revenue from a hotel tax, Aberdeen is forced to do something else; that is, to extend a credit for the value of the property tax of a specified property.
Most people are unfamiliar with our Maryland Constitution. This bill rejects the authority of the Maryland Constitution in two ways:
The first is the issue of one subject per bill.
MD Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 29 says: “. . . and every Law enacted by the General Assembly shall embrace but one subject, and that shall be described in its title . . .” Strategically-smart, the bill is entitled “Harford County – Taxes.” Casually, one could say that’s just one subject. Likely, other bills have similarly incorporated more than one subject, but that does not make them legal.
The bill Synopsis states: “Authorizing Harford County to impose a hotel rental tax at 5%; requiring Harford County to distribute the hotel rental tax revenue in a specified manner; requiring the governing body of Harford County and the governing body of a municipal corporation in Harford County to provide, by law, for a credit against the County and municipal corporation property tax imposed on specified property owned by and used in connection with a continuing care facility; etc.”
Clearly at least two entirely different actions or changes to law are being rolled into one arm-twisting maneuver:
1. Imposition of a new hotel tax in Harford county
2. One property owner’s special credit against its property tax in Aberdeen
And the bill deals with two completely different taxes:
1. Hotel tax
2. Property tax
In addition to the disregard for the one-subject rule, the second infraction against the Maryland Constitution is that the bill causes government to create a monopoly.
MD Constitution, Preamble & Declaration of Rights, Art. 41: “We, the People of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more permanent security thereof, declare:  That monopolies are odious, contrary to the spirit of a free government and the principles of commerce, and ought not to be suffered.”
This bill creates a monopoly. Government extends a privilege to one entity, and not to all. While most other property owners in Harford County are required to pay property tax, this legislation will give a specified property owner (corporation) a credit against the property tax, so the specified corporation will not have to pay the tax. That is a monopoly.
I urge all to oppose HB584 and to express your opposition to the Harford County Delegation in Annapolis, or to your own delegate(s) and state senator. The city of Aberdeen should also hear your opposition to the “deal.”
Bill summary page online: http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/hb0584.htm
Bill text online: http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/bills/hb/hb0584f.pdf
The legislators of the Harford County Delegation:
Senator Barry Glassman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Nancy Jacobs, email@example.com
Senator J.B. Jennings, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delegate Glen Glass, email@example.com
Delegate Rick Impallaria, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delegate Mary-Dulany James, email@example.com
Delegate Susan McComas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delegate Pat McDonough, email@example.com
Delegate Wayne Norman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delegate Donna Stifler, email@example.com
Delegate Kathy Szeliga, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mayor and the Council members of the City of Aberdeen:
Mayor Michael Bennet, email@example.com
Councilwoman Ruth Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilman Bruce Garner, email@example.com
Councilwoman Sandy Landbeck, firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young, email@example.com