Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed legislation Thursday increasing the state sales tax on alcohol as well as several initiatives he pushed during the recent legislative session, including a $75 million venture capital initiative.
The bills were among more than 200 to get O’Malley’s signature in the final signing ceremony following this year’s annual legislative session. Similar numbers of bills were signed in two previous ceremonies, and O’Malley announced Wednesday that he was vetoing four bills.
Under legislation signed Thursday in Annapolis, the state sales tax on alcohol will increase from 6 percent to 9 percent, generating an estimated $85 million a year in new revenue. Funding from the law is earmarked next year for education and programs for people with disabilities.
The bill, pushed by health-care advocates, marks the fist time Maryland has raised an alcohol-specific tax since 1972.
During the ceremony, at which O’Malley was flanked by the legislature’s two presiding officers, he touted his signing of InvestMaryland, his primary economic initiative this year.
The tax-credit program, which lawmakers scaled back some during the session, is designed to create about $75 million in venture capital funding for “Maryland’s knowledge-based industries.”
O’Malley said it remains “the largest single-shot of venture capital in our state’s history” and will create new jobs.
“In our state, we do not fear the new economy,” O’Malley said. “We are the new economy.”
Other O’Malley initiatives signed Thursday make child neglect a crime for the first time in Maryland, provide operating subsidies to the state’s racetracks and promote the use of electric cars.
O’Malley also signed a bill that makes Maryland the first state to require that a company seeking government rail contracts provides records about Nazi victims it transported and any personal belongings taken from them.
The legislation targeted Keolis, a Paris-based company whose majority owner is Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francaise (SNCF), the government-owned French railway that historians say was paid to transport nearly 77,000 Jews and other Holocaust victims during World War II.
O’Malley called the bill “an example of thinking globally and acting locally.”