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Health Clubs Removed from Maryland Tax Bill

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- The Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted Tuesday to remove health clubs from a list of services to which a proposed expansion of a sales tax would be applied.

Senate Bill 2 would have taxed health club membership dues. Tanning salons and real estate management were other services deleted from the original proposal by Gov. Martin O’Malley, who called a special legislative session to address a $1.7 billion budget deficit.

According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, there were 12,000 e-mails, phone calls, postcards and petition signatures to protest O’Malley’s proposal. A Maryland health club owner said earlier in the week that she feared the extra expense would have prompted people to give up their health club memberships.

In place of health clubs, tanning salons and real estate management, the Senate committee voted to extend the sales tax to computer services, landscaping and video arcades. Unlike health clubs and real estate management, which had representatives lobbying for a change in the proposal, lobbyists for computer services, landscaping and video arcades had little opportunity this week to voice their opinion about the last-minute changes. Landscaping was taken off the bill Thursday night.

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