In miniature, February 18

  • Should landlords be legally obliged to provide voter registration materials to their tenants? [HB5, Del. J. Lewis; companion bill HB55, which would impose similar requirements on real estate agents and brokers, was reported unfavorably by Economic Matters]
  • Noteworthy Twitter thread on theft of rental cars has Maryland State Police angle [Noah Lehmann-Haupt]
  • An unwarranted curtailment of individual choice: bill sponsored by Del. Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard) would ban marriage by persons under 18 even with parent/guardian consent [HB 191]
  • “Dollar home” programs show mostly sparse results in urban revitalization, especially when regulatory strings come attached [Jared Alves, Greater Greater Washington on lessons for Baltimore]
  • Why Baltimore’s Civilian Review Board hasn’t done much to fix its police crisis [J.F. Meils, Maryland Reporter]
  • “Maryland Delegate Proposes Regional Pact To Keep Taxpayer Money from Financing Redskins’ Stadium” [Andrew Metcalf, Bethesda Magazine on Del. David Moon (D-Takoma Park) bill]
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Televise floor proceedings in Annapolis?

The legislative majority has already decided the answer is “no,” now to come up with a rationale [Len Lazarick, Maryland Reporter]

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“Is your child texting about partisan gerrymandering?…”

My bit of Twitter humor from the other day:

Is your child texting about partisan gerrymandering? Know the language:

IDC: Is district compact?
SMDH: Splitting more Dem households
OMG: Omigod, Maryland’s gerrymandered
HBD: Hilariously bad district
LOL: Less outrageous lines
OMW: Our map wins
FFS: Friend/foe spread

On a more serious note, I’m visible in this photo of Gov. Hogan’s press conference last month on redistricting reform:

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My Oprah Winfrey Show reminiscence

My recollection of what it was like to be a guest on the Oprah Winfrey talk show early in my career has appeared in the Frederick News-Post.

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In miniature, January 21

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A Baltimore cookie drama, in two acts

Act I: In a widely read Nov. 15 piece in Atlas Obscura, Priya Krishna reports on “the quest to save Baltimore’s Berger Cookie,” a beloved local food institution. “One of the most essential ingredients in the Berger Cookie is trans fats. Trans fats are what make the chocolate super creamy, prevent the fat and the water in the dough from separating (which would yield an overly crumbly cookie), and keep the cookie stable in both very warm and very cold settings.” However, the Obama administration enacted a federal ban on trans fats — for your own good, you know — which goes into effect next year.

Cookie producer Charlie DeBaufre, interviewed by Krishna, “refers to the past year as ‘frustrating and scary,’ as so many of his trans fat-free experiments have been failures. ‘I have spent $10,000 trying to get this worked out. I am not a big business. I don’t have an R&D Department. I have to shut down production for a few hours, still pay people for labor, and then most of the product gets trashed. It’s tough.’” More background in a piece I wrote for Cato last week.

Act II: Then a twist, reported by Sarah Meehan in the Baltimore Sun Nov. 21: the fudge supplier had managed to replace trans fats months ago and didn’t tell Berger’s. While early attempts to reformulate fudge frosting without trans fats had suffered from various quality defects, the new recipe was much improved to the point where neither consumers nor Berger’s had noticed.

So a happy if unexpected ending, at least for this one company, right? But the regulatory downside — you just knew there had to be one — was that in changing its recipe the fudge supplier had added more sugar, which appears to have boosted the calorie count and might have changed other things reported in the Nutrition Facts box as well. Since Berger’s says it didn’t know about the new formula, one inference might be that for a while it has been shipping cookies with a faulty calorie/nutrition count on the package. Hello to class action woes and, if the FDA is in a bad mood, regulatory liability? [cross-posted from Overlawyered]

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On WFRE local-personalities podcast

Check out this 17:23 podcast in which I’m interviewed by Patrick Hanes of Maryland’s WFRE. He wanted to know about think tanks, in particular, and our conversation led on to how those nonprofit groups affect the policy conversation, how Cato and other think tanks are adapting to changes in media formats and public consumption of information, my own background, and why I recommend the study of economics to every student.

[cross-posted from Overlawyered]

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In miniature, December 9

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“Frederick Uncut” podcast

I joined Danielle Gaines and Colin McGuire on the Frederick News-Post’s Frederick Uncut podcast series last month. Their description:

You may know Walter K. Olson because he’s a leading figure in Maryland’s congressional redistricting debate. Or from his articles as a fellow at the Cato Institute. Or maybe his nationally known blog, “Overlawyered.” Or perhaps as an unbridled cheerleader for the town of New Market, where he lives.

In the latest episode of the Frederick Uncut podcast, Olson joined host Colin McGuire and Frederick News-Post reporter Danielle E. Gaines to talk about politics and law, nationally and locally.

Download this MP3 file or listen at the Frederick Uncut site.

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In miniature, November 19

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