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Much of the increased tax burden — including increases in the corporate income tax, the state sales tax and the expanded taxes on computer services — slams Maryland businesses, which will further slow economic growth, said Anirban Basu, chairman and chief executive officer of the Sage Policy Group.

The desire to increase taxes or cut the budget was drained from most lawmakers during the special session, in which they also approved a measure to ask voters in November whether to legalize slot machines to generate additional state revenue.

“Nobody looks forward to any of that,” said House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat. “That’s just the economy you have to face.”

He said lawmakers would likely cut spending before considering new taxes to cover a new shortfall.

Mr. O'Malley lost public support after the tax increases were approved during the special session, according to two polls over the past several weeks. A third poll, released in the past several days, showed Mr. O'Malley and the Assembly’s approval ratings have dropped.

However, Mr. O'Malley downplayed the poll numbers.

“I make decisions based on what’s best for the people,” he said. “I volunteered to serve and what’s in their best long-term interest.”


Saying nooses have replaced white hoods and burning crosses as symbols of racial hate, some Maryland lawmakers have proposed making it illegal to place one on someone’s property as a threatening gesture based on race or another protected class.

“Nooses seem to be becoming the premier symbol of racism today,” said Delegate Saqib Ali, Montgomery Democrat, who co-sponsored one of two bills a House committee debated yesterday.

The anti-noose bills would expand harassment and property-damage laws to make it a felony to hang a noose as a symbol of racial hatred to intimidate.

Noose hangings, which do not violate state law, have popped up around Maryland in the past year. A noose was discovered in October at the University of Maryland at College Park, near a building that houses several black campus groups. And a noose was found hanging from a classroom door at Kent Island High School last month after a fight between a white student and a black student.

But Maryland lawmakers from both parties questioned the noose-bill sponsors yesterday about whether their plan is constitutional. No other state makes noose displays a hate crime; New York lawmakers have considered but not approved one.

“Do you no longer have the right to hate?” asked Delegate Michael D. Smigiel Sr., Cecil Republican.

Bill sponsors offered to change their legislation to ban hateful displays of weapons, not just nooses, to satisfy free-speech concerns. But that only brought up more questions from lawmakers.

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