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Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is proposing a transportation revenue package to establish a new sales tax on gasoline and other measures to raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year to fund a backlog of transportation projects.

The proposal, made public last week, was worked out during negotiations with House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert.

The plan would apply a new 2 percent sales tax on gasoline starting in July. The tax would increase to 4 percent in July 2014. The proposal also would reduce the current excise tax by 5 cents, from 23.5 cents to 18.5 cents, and it would then link the excise tax to the consumer price index, so the tax would rise to keep up with inflation in future years.

Maryland is currently on track to run out of money for any new transportation projects in five years.

As the owner of a Sunoco gas station, Dave Barsotti is enraged that the governor’s proposing an increase on the tax per gallon of gas.

So Barsotti, AAA, and scores of others packed the statehouse, waiting to sound off to the governor.

Lon Anderson of AAA-Mid-Atlantic says the governor’s proposal drops the current tax of 23.5 cents to18.5 cents, but would raise the tax to nearly 26 cents per gallon and will continue to rise through 2018 to 43.7 cents, almost double the current tax.

The governor’s office says Maryland roads and bridges are crumbling. This tax would raise $800 million per year through 2018 to fix them.

During debate on Wednesday, Delegate Susan Krebs tried to amend the budget bill to repay about $1 billion in local highway user money that has been used to plug budget holes in recent years.

Krebs, R-Carroll, said the state should commit to paying back the money over three years for road repairs before seeking more money from the public.

But Delegate John Bohanan, D-St. Mary’s, said the state can’t afford the level of highway user money for counties, and he noted that some counties budgeted nothing for roads during the period the state was being asked to pay back.

The amendment failed on a vote largely on party lines in the Democrat-controlled House.

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THE WASHINGTON TIMES ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says Gov. Martin O’Malley is trying to remove oversight of the Baltimore Police Department, which they say engaged in overzealous arrests during his term as mayor.

The group has asked Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler to deny a request by Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, that likely would remove the Baltimore prosecutor’s ability to review arrests by city police.

A March 2006 grand jury report found an “overwhelming” number of arrests in the city compared with eight other Maryland jurisdictions. The state chapters of the ACLU and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a lawsuit against the city and Mr. O’Malley last year, purporting civil rights violations for the large number of city residents who were arrested but released without charge.

“Given all of that, it’s hard to conceive of any other reason than this is the attempt to hide the evidence of the problem,” said David Rocah, staff attorney for the Maryland ACLU.

Mr. O’Malley asked Mr. Gansler to examine his mayoral policy of having the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office review arrests before suspects are processed through the Central Booking Intake Facility.

“Public confidence in the criminal justice system is undermined when a person is arrested, then released with no determination of probable cause. … Not to pursue a case is often confused with an alleged absence of probable cause, which is then spun as a supposed ‘false arrest,’ ” Mr. O’Malley wrote in his letter to Mr. Gansler.

O’Malley spokesman Sasha Leonhardt said the governor “has asked the attorney general’s office for a legal opinion as one of many steps to improve public safety throughout Baltimore and all of Maryland.”

The ACLU said Mr. O’Malley appears to be cleaning up his record as mayor.

“Indeed it is precisely because the statistics maintained by the [state’s attorney’s office] have helped to shine a spotlight on improper police practices in Baltimore that Mayor Martin O’Malley previously called for removing the SAO from the charging process,” Mr. Rocah wrote.

Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman for Baltimore State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, said it is logical that Mr. O’Malley would want to resolve the abnormally high number of arrests and subsequent lawsuit.

“It’s a questionable mark on his record as mayor, and it’s reasonable to think as a politician that he would want to address the record,” Miss Burns said.

The grand jury last year found that the number of arrests — often for quality-of-life issues including trespassing and loitering — was inordinately high and that many arrests “bordered” on violating constitutional rights.

“The number of arrests in Baltimore City was overwhelming when compared to those in Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s and Wicomico counties. Although [city police] are cognizant of this trend, it is unclear to the Grand Jury why citizens continue to be arrested in record numbers in comparison to other jurisdictions without being formally charged,” the grand jury concluded.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Gansler said he has not set a deadline to issue an opinion on Mr. O’Malley’s request.

“We have received the letter, and we are still reviewing it,” said spokeswoman Raquel Guillory.

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Maryland Death Penalty, Martin O’Malley, Capital Punishment, Repeal