Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Here’s how much in taxes Americans will pay this year
Kelly Cohen ― Washington Examiner

Tax Freedom Day is officially April 24, or 114 days into the year.

The day falls on April 24 this year because it is the official day Americans have earned enough money to cover their tax obligations, according to the Tax Foundation.
[...]
In 2015, Americans will pay $3.28 trillion in federal taxes and $1.57 trillion in state and local taxes. When combined to total $4.85 trillion, Americans will spend more on taxes in 2015 than it will on food, clothing and housing combined.

Sammy 05:59 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Grid regulator eyes ‘safety valve’ for power plant rules
John Siciliano ― Washington Examiner

The nation’s top utility regulator is considering using a reliability “safety valve” to allow more time for states and utilities to comply with EPA’s aggressive rules governing emissions from power plants.

The idea would help states and utilities guard against power outages and other calamities that many fear could occur under the rules.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Cheryl LaFleur discussed the safety valve as a key focus during the last in a series of technical conferences held in St. Louis Tuesday to address concerns raised by the emission rules, which are at the center of the Obama administration’s climate agenda. Many scientists believe emissions from burning fossil fuels is driving manmade climate change.

Sammy 05:58 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
NYC blast probe highlights problem of stealing gas
COLLEEN LONG and JENNIFER PELTZ ― Yahoo News

It was a run-of-the-mill complaint — a smell of gas — with a troubling explanation: Someone had improperly tapped into a Manhattan building’s gas line, and it was leaking.

The issue was quickly resolved. But seven months later, authorities suspect another round of gas-pipe tampering caused a fiery explosion at the same building, killing two people, injuring nearly two dozen and leveling three buildings in all.

While officials caution that they aren’t certain of the cause of last week’s blast in New York’s East Village, it is highlighting a long-known problem with potentially deadly consequences: untrained schemers rigging up pipes to save money by siphoning natural gas.

Sammy 05:50 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
High Court: Hospitals can’t sue over Medicaid reimbursement
Daily Record

Hospitals and other health-care providers can’t sue to challenge reimbursement rates set by states under the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The 5-4 decision is a blow to hospitals, which say that Medicaid rates aren’t covering their costs. Providers now will have to take any objections to rates to the U.S. agency that oversees the joint federal-state program.

Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia rejected contentions that the U.S. Constitution authorized reimbursement lawsuits. Providers pointed to the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which says federal law trumps contrary state requirements.

Sammy 05:47 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Virginia Tech, VSU to research industrial hemp
WTOP

Once banned, hemp will be the focus of research at Virginia State University and Virginia Tech.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed legislation in March to clear the way for the research. The law is effective July 1, with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services designated as the licensing agent for the state.
[...]
Industrial help was grown in the U.S. until 1945. It 1970, all forms of the cannabis plant were banned under the Controlled Substances Act.

Sammy 09:41 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Md. No. 1 in AP exam achievement; Va. third
Megan Cloherty ― WTOP

Many teens dread the Advanced Placement exams, but know they could save time and money by gaining college credit or even career training. Last year, student efforts paid off as the District,  Maryland and Virginia made waves.

In achievement, Maryland grabbed the top spot in the nation for the ninth year in a row. But state students made history when it came to the examinations.

“For the first time, more than 30 percent of Maryland seniors earned a 3 or better. It’s terrific; Maryland leads the nation in success students are having. But not only that — more students are having success,” says John White, chief of staff at the state’s department of education.

Sammy 09:39 AM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Maryland planning agency to receive national award for planning excellence
Maryland Department of Planning

The American Planning Association today announced the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) as recipient of the 2015 National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Agency. The association, which represents the field of city and regional planning in the United States, made the announcement at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. The Planning Excellence award annually recognizes one public sector agency with a consistent history of superior programs whose efforts have promoted the cause of planning-creating communities of lasting value.

The honor comes to MDP for its more than 50 years of advocacy, education and initiatives encouraging statewide growth and improving quality of life for Marylanders.

“I applaud the Maryland Department of Planning and its staff for receiving this national recognition,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “As one of the few states to have a cabinet level state planning agency and one frequently cited as an example of sound land use management policy, we appreciate this national award from the APA.”

Related American Planning Association article: National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Agency

Sammy 09:36 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Forum Works toward ‘Shaping A Stronger Charles County Together’ April 25
Charles County Government

*This news release is provided in partnership with College of Southern Maryland Diversity Institute

Free Program Features Panelists, Breakout Sessions

The Diversity Institute at the College of Southern Maryland presents the 2015 Unity in Our Community Diversity Forum, focusing on “Shaping a Stronger Charles County Together,” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 25 at the College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Center for Business and Industry, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata.

Residents of the Charles County community are encouraged to attend the free forum to begin the process of crafting a community action plan that will be coordinated by the Diversity Institute at CSM.

Sammy 07:11 AM | (2) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Crude oil continues to flow through Maryland amid debate about safety
Kevin Rector ― Baltimore Sun

Increasing worry about crude oil shipments through Maryland in recent years by state lawmakers, environmental activists and local residents has done little to slow those shipments down.

Axeon Speciality Products moved nearly 57 million gallons of crude oil by rail through the state in the fiscal year ended June 30, up from the 53.4 million gallons it moved under a previous corporate structure in fiscal 2013 and the zero gallons it moved in 2012 and 2011, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Oil Control Program.
[...]
Substantially more crude oil passes through the state but is not captured by the oil control program because it is not unloaded. According to elected officials in Cecil County and documents from sources outside Maryland, including Pennslyvania and Amtrak, long tanker trains pass through the heart of several small towns there, including Perryville and Port Deposit, en route to Northeast refineries.

Sammy 07:08 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Lower Shore farmers are protecting Maryland
Charles Wright IV, Eddie Johnson, Alan Hudson ― DelmarvaNow

The farmers in Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester counties are more than agronomic professionals.

Yes, we grow local fruits and vegetables, raise animals and tend to crops that provide the food, fuel and fiber to our community and the world. But did you know we also work every day to protect our environment?

Through numerous conservation practices, farmers on Maryland’s lower shore are stewards of the land, water and air. In the past few years, we have implemented more than 100 different conservation programs and practices on our farms. Some of these practices include cover crops, nutrient management plans, irrigation management and more.

Sammy 07:01 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Okinawa: 70th anniversary of the biggest & last battle of the Pacific
Len Lazarick ― MarylandReporter.com

The largest amphibious invasion of the Pacific theater in the Second World War began 70 years ago Wednesday.

On April 1, 1945, Easter Sunday, four Army divisions and two divisions of Marines began taking the beaches on Okinawa, a densely populated island just 400 miles from the home islands of Japan. The Japanese did not resist, but waited to attack once the Americans had come ashore.

By the time the final battle was over 14,000 Americans would be dead, 73,000 Japanese soldiers, and 147,000 Okinawans, a third of the population. The U.S. Navy would lose 5,000 men, its heaviest losses of the entire war, casualties of young kamikaze pilots on suicide missions.

Sammy 06:58 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
House Committee Restores Funding For Local Program Open Space
Andrea Mansfield ― Maryland Association of Counties - Conduit Street

The House Appropriations Committee approved increasing the general obligation (GO) bond authorization for Local Program Open Space(POS) by $15.6 million, to a total of $30.1 million for FY 2016. This amount is more than double the $14.5 million authorization included in the Governor’s proposed capital budget.

The additional $15.6 million authorization is intended to backfill the $8.1 million in unencumbered fund balance used to assist with balancing the FY 2015 budget and the remaining $7.45 million is being allocated to bring the funding level up to 75% of the replacement funding for FY 2016 as specified during the 2014 session. Other land purchase and easement acquisition capital programs have also been adjusted to be funded at this 75% benchmark.

Sammy 06:55 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Colorado defends pot law, says states free to legalize weed
KRISTEN WYATT ― Yahoo News

States are free to legalize marijuana, Colorado argued Friday in a filing to the U.S. Supreme Court in response to a lawsuit from neighboring states that have asked the nation’s highest court to shut down Colorado’s pot law.

The filing marks the first time Colorado has defended legal marijuana in writing. The federal government did not sue to block the state’s 2012 vote to legalize pot for all adults over 21.

Colorado said that Nebraska and Oklahoma should sue the federal government for not enforcing the Controlled Substances Act, not other states. Colorado said the states’ “quarrel is not with Colorado but with the federal government’s” approach to letting states experiment with pot law.

Sammy 06:54 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
New Water Heater Changes Could Prove Costly & Cause Headaches

[...]
Effective as of April 16, a federal law requires all manufacturers to make most water heaters more efficient. That means a bigger, heavier tank with more insulation.

“The biggest change is that this water heater will get about two inches wider in diameter and about one inch taller in height,” Sullivan said.

That may not sound like much, but water heaters are often in tight spaces.
[...]
Even though manufacturers are not allowed to make current models after April 16, the cheaper water heaters may be sold until they run out. So, many plumbers are sending out cards and emails with this basic message:

Sammy 06:49 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Swiss bank pays $211M for aiding U.S. tax evasion
Kevin McCoy ― USA TODAY

A major Swiss bank will pay $211 million in a deal to avoid prosecution on charges it secretly helped American clients evade U.S. taxes, the Department of Justice said Monday.

The agreement with BSI SA makes the private bank the first to come clean under a federal program that encourages overseas banks to disclose their role in suspected criminal offenses stemming from undeclared offshore accounts held by wealthy U.S. citizens.

Along with the financial penalty, BSI, one of Switzerland’s 10 largest banks, agreed to disclose “detailed information on an account-by-account basis for every account it has in which a U.S. taxpayer has a direct or indirect interest,” said acting Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery.

Sammy 06:46 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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