It’s a recommendation from a task force set up by the state legislature.
Annapolis, Md (KM). Legislators in Annapolis are expected to consider a proposal to strip the Maryland Comptroller’s Office of some of its powers. A task force set up by the General Assembly would remove the authority from the Comptroller to regulate and enforce the laws covering alcohol, tobacco and motor fuels, and give to a new, separate agency. That would leave the Comptroller with the duty to collect taxes from the alcohol industry.
Comptroller Peter Franchot says it’s an effort by some lawmakers to get back at him for his strong support of Maryland’s craft beer industry. “It represents almost $700-million in economic activity. And the state legislature has constantly tormented them with all sorts of regulations and restriction on their production of beer and the sale of beer to the citizens,” he says.
Franchot says he will fight this proposal “tooth and nail.” “The loser here are the taxpayers. They’re going to have to pay for this slight of hand that the big special interests are trying to pull off here,” he says. Those “big special interest,” according to Franchot, are large, nationwide breweries which sell their products all over the United States and the world..
But members of the task force say there’s a need to monitor public health considerations when it comes to alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel. Chairman Bruce Poole, a former Delegate, says “We all know that alcohol has an upside and a downside.” He spoke with the Baltimore Business Journal.
Franchot says his employees who regulate and enforce the alcohol, tobacco and motor fuels industries do an excellent job. “Why are they doing it,”:he asks. “They’re jealous, I think, those folks in the legislature. They’re jealous that I happen to be a popular Comptroller around the state whose not groveling and not under their thumb all the time.”
So far, there’s nothing before the General Assembly at this time. “If enough people speak out and tell the very few bosses and well connected lobbyists in Annapolis to back off, maybe the rank-and-file legislators for once will not go along with this back room nonsense,” he says.
The 2019 Maryland General Assembly convened for its 90-day session on Wednesday.
By Kevin McManus