Welcome to the Commonwealth Agitator, your regular digest of local Montgomery County and Maryland news from a left perspective.
End Tax Breaks for Country Clubs!
Members of the Montgomery County DSA were out in force today at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville to protest property tax exemptions for country clubs. With signs bearing slogans such as “Fund Schools, Not Golf,” some 30 demonstrators (among them some of Commonwealth’s editors) made enough of a fuss to garner the attention of the esteemed Bethesda Beat.
Delegate David Moon is once again introducing legislation to address the problem of country club tax breaks, but while his original bill called for an end to tax exemptions for all country clubs, it was recently amended to merely impose fees on the four wealthiest clubs in the county, totaling just $400,000 in public revenue. Presumably Moon made this compromise to give the bill a better chance of passing in the House of Delegates, but it will come as a disappointment to those of us who believe that all wealthy property owners should pay their fair share.
You can read Commonwealth’s earlier reporting on these country club tax breaks here: Local State Legislators Make Run at Repealing Country Club Tax Cuts
Hogan’s “War on Gerrymandering”
Governor Larry Hogan and the Republicans in the state legislature have long been unhappy with the way our legislative districts are drawn, and now they’re ramping up their efforts to change it. They believe that the Democrats unfairly benefit from the House of Delegates’ three-member districts, and in the interest of “fairness,” Hogan himself has introduced a bill to require single-member districts only. And while the GOP is playing somewhat coy about their motives — “We never did the math,” says House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke — it’s hard to imagine that the Maryland Republican Party is trying to change our districts out of the good of their hearts. The scheme would likely net them a few extra seats.
Given the current Democratic supermajority, the bill will probably fail like similar bills before it, but the Republicans won’t let that deter them. According to Kipke, the party is considering taking the issue to court, claiming that the multi-member districts are a violation of federal law.
Vaughn and Gabe Making Waves
Our two new DSA-backed delegates, Gabriel Acevero and Vaughn Stewart, are already hard at work pushing for socialist policy initiatives on the state level, and the media is taking notice. A recent piece in Jacobin highlighted Stewart’s Social Housing Act, first introduced on February 7th, and Acevero’s plans to establish a social wealth fund based on a model laid out by the People’s Policy Project. The article’s framing of Maryland’s electoral successes as an example for socialists to follow is encouraging:
“As current and future socialist politicians look for concrete ways to push the envelope, their eyes should turn towards Maryland, which is right now at the vanguard of translating socialist ideals into workable legislative proposals.”
Not everyone is thrilled about these new proposals, however. In the world of local media, Vaughn Stewart’s social housing bill has earned him the scorn of the steadfast conservative wonks at Red Maryland.
On the February 13th edition of their podcast, they apparently had some pretty harsh words for Vaughn’s bill, and Vaughn himself. And though we at Commonwealth would never bother to listen to what those clowns have to say, the ever-diligent Del. Stewart took time out of his busy schedule to hear them out.
No such thing as bad publicity, right? Keep up the great work, Vaughn and Gabe!
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Until Next Time…