Gas Taxes And Tolls Go Up, Baltimore Violence Continues, and Rawlings-Blake To Endorse Brown

Jul 1, 2013

Maryland’s gas taxes are now up 3-and-a-half cents a gallon. Tolls at many major Maryland bridges and tunnels are also up. Baltimore’s spate of violence continued over the weekend, with at least five more shootings; more than 40 shootings have occurred in the last 12 days, and city officials say violence has reached a “crisis level.” Plus: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to endorse Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown’s gubernatorial bid today, the Baltimore County Council is expect to add its own version of "Connor's Law" to the books, a small plane goes down off the coast of Ocean City, three rabid animals are found in Baltimore, and more.

Higher Gas Taxes Take Effect: It’ll cost more to fuel your car in Maryland from her on out, now that the first in a series of increases to the state’s gas tax has taken effect. The Frederick News Post reports that the price at the pump is 3-and-a-half cents per gallon higher than it was yesterday. Additional gas tax increases are in store for the coming years. The money will be used to pay for new road and transit projects. 

Toll Hikes Kick In: Tolls at many Maryland bridges and tunnels are also higher today; tolls have gone from $3 to $4 at the Key Bridge, Fort McHenry and Harbor Tunnels… on the Bay bridge, the standard toll has gone from $4 to $6. The Maryland Transportation Authority notes that other tolls have gone up as well; the MdTA says the higher tolls will help to pay for needed construction and preservation projects. 

Baltimore’s Bottle Tax Goes Up: Taxes are also rising on most bottled beverages sold in Baltimore City, with the exception of milk and two liter soda bottles. The bottle tax had been 2 cents; it’s now 5 cents; city officials tell the Baltimore Sun that the hike will bring in around $10-million a year, cash that will be used to build new school facilities. 

Stormwater Fees: Today is also the deadline for Baltimore City and Maryland’s 9 largest counties to establish stormwater fees; but the Capital Gazette notes that the size of those fees varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Baltimore City homeowners, for example, will pay between 40 and 120 dollars a year. Baltimore County homeowners will pay between 21 dollars and 39 dollars a year. Frederick County homeowners, however, will pay just one cent. 

Baltimore Violence At “Crisis Level”: Baltimore officials say a recent surge in violence has reached a "crisis level.” City police tell the Baltimore Sun that two shootings occurred last night, one in Northeast Baltimore, the other in Southwest Baltimore; three other shootings occurred on Saturday. In all, the Sun says city has seen more than 40 shootings in the past 12 days; 16 of them have been fatal. Baltimore Police say they now have three times the typical number of officers patrolling the streets.  

Credit P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Rawlings-Blake To Endorse Brown: Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown’s quest to become Maryland’s next governor is expected to win the endorsement of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Anonymous sources tell the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post that the Mayor will make her formal endorsement today, at The Avenue Bakery on Pennsylvania Avenue. Brown is the only Democrat to have formally launched a bid in next year’s Governor’s race, and has also chosen a running mate – outgoing Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Today’s endorsement from Mayor Rawlings-Blake comes after some 70 municipal leaders backed the Brown/Ulman ticket at last week’s meeting of the Maryland Municipal League.  

The Narrative Candidate O'Malley Might Choose: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Jill Lawrence of National Journal talk about how Governor O'Malley might tell his story as a candidate for president. It’s today’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.

Baltimore County Council Adding Its Version Of "Connor's Law": Ever since a five year old Anne Arundel County boy died after an accident at a community swimming poll, local legislatures across Maryland have adopted laws requiring that certain life saving devices be on site at pools and beaches. The Baltimore County Council is expected to become the latest body to do so tonight. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns reports.

Rabid Cats, Fox In Baltimore: Baltimore city officials are warning of an unusual spike in rabid animals found in neighboring zip codes in the northern part of the city. The Baltimore Sun reports that two cats and a fox were found within a span of 20 days in the 21210, 21211, and 21212 zip codes. WJZ reports that all three animals tested positive for the rabies virus

Holiday Travel: Triple-A is predicting a decrease in the number of Maryland residents expected to travel for this July Fourth holiday. Triple-A Mid-Atlantic says close to 800-thousand state residents are expected to travel more than 50 miles for the holiday, that is down one-percent from last year's numbers. Of those going away, 86-percent are traveling by car, eight-percent are flying and six-percent are hopping onto a train or a bus.

Airplane Down Near Ocean City: A small airplane crashed and sank about half a mile off the shore of Ocean City yesterday afternoon. Maryland State Police say beach rescuers swam to the scene after the plane went down at about 4pm, but were not able to locate the aircraft, its pilot or any passengers. The Daily Times reports that a much larger search followed from boats and the air, but the plane hadn’t been located by 9 last night, at which point crews had to call off the search because of hazardous conditions; if conditions improve, the search could start back up this morning. The Baltimore Sun has more here

Baltimore Baseball: the Orioles won their fourth game in a row yesterday, taking down the New York Yankees 4 to 2. The O’s take a break today; tomorrow, they’ll be in Chicago to take on the White Sox.