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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hotel tax hike overcomes alliance of conservative, liberal delegates

The old dictum that politics makes for strange bedfellows was rarely clearer than in the vote among Howard County's state delegates approving the Ulman administration's bill boosting local hotel room taxes from 5 percent to 7 percent.

Allied in opposition were the delegation's most liberal member, Democratic Del. Elizabeth Bobo, and Republicans Dels. Gail H. Bates and Warren E. Miller, the two most conservative. Their reasons for opposing the measure were different, but led them to the same position. Though the local bill affects just Howard County, to become law the measure must be approved by the General Assembly.

In the final vote, Bobo said she opposed any restrictions on the use of the new revenue because of heavy demands on nonprofit and county social agencies that need more money to help people in crisis.

"I have no problem raising the hotel tax," she said, but she does object to using the money for tourism in a time of economic crisis. "Human services are unable to keep up," Bobo added.