Monthly Archives: March 2015

In miniature, March 27

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Maryland False Claims Act whizzes through Senate

We miss Sen. David Brinkley, who stopped this bad legislation last year. Now it’s moving forward as expected, promoted by left-wing Sen. Jamie Raskin, who’s trying to become my Congressman here in CD-8. [Maryland Reporter]

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In miniature, March 21

  • “Maryland legislature mulls new SWAT transparency bill” [Radley Balko, earlier here, here, and here] More: Jason Boisvert;
  • With conservative support, legislature moving to give Child Protective Services more power to keep kids away from parents. What could go wrong? [Frederick News-Post, more about laws named after victims]
  • State should give scandal-plagued Baltimore jail back to city [Van Smith, earlier]
  • “Living rent-free in a $600,000 house is a ‘plight’ only in the sense that at some point you may have to stop.” [Arnold Kling on the Washington Post’s naive Prince George’s County foreclosure series; coverage of Maryland’s unusually lender-hostile foreclosure law at Overlawyered here, here, here, here, here, and here]
  • Veteran cop once feared concealed carry but testifies how “they schooled me” [The Blaze]
  • Sigh: “Maryland Institutes Affirmative Action for Pot Growers” [Roger Clegg]

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An armored vehicle for Frederick County?

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Department is requesting $183,500 for an armored vehicle?! That’s what this budget document would seem to indicate.

I’ve heard that the city of Frederick got one of those but has never had occasion to use it. Maybe the city could share that vehicle with the county and they could not-use-it on a joint basis — or better yet, just ditch the whole idea. Much more on police militarization at Overlawyered.

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As House votes forfeiture reform, GOP opposes strengthening property rights

Apparently we elect Republicans to Annapolis so they can vote against the due process rights of property owners. Per Maryland Reporter, a modest bill (HB 360) to toughen the requirements for police seizure and forfeiture of property — long overdue, as those who follow the forfeiture scandals know — passed 81-54 last week, but nearly every Republican voted against it, including the delegates from my own District 4 (Afzali, Vogt, Ciliberti). At least Dels. Karen Lewis Young and Carol Krimm (D-Frederick) were on the right side, for which I thank them.

The case for forfeiture reform really isn’t that obscure. Libertarians may have gotten to it first, but if you read the conservative press you almost certainly have heard about the problems with forfeiture too. Of several mentions on this blog, the most recent linked to resources on forfeiture and its abuse at Cato and at my legal blog Overlawyered.

By my rough check (I couldn’t find a 100% up-to-date list) the two Republicans who crossed over to vote for the bill were Dels. Glen Glass (Harford, Cecil Counties) and Robin Grammer (Baltimore County), so thanks to them too. But I fear we have a GOP caucus much of which, when an issue has a “law enforcement” label, just asks the police and prosecutor community for a thumbs up or down.

P.S. The Capital Gazette has the right idea (via Paul Ellington). More: Jason Boisvert breaks out the terms of HB 360 and writes, “This bill is fairly straight-forward and doesn’t have any poison pills that I could find. It’s an honest, serious attempt to reform a system that is widely abused and corrupts police forces. It’s essentially the bill I would have written.” More: In part II, Boisvert refutes a few assertions circulated by opponents of the bill, such as that it will prevent small drug busts, end cooperation with the feds, or force investigators to reveal their case too early.

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For me but not for thee: Montgomery County lawn pesticide ban

I’ve got a new post at Cato at Liberty about a proposed countywide ban on common lawn and turf pesticides in Washington, D.C.’s suburban Montgomery County. The best part is that county officials are frantically maneuvering to get the county’s own playing fields exempted from the ban. The piece concludes:

Libertarians often note that the state freely bans private conduct in which it’s happy to indulge itself — federal investigators can lie to you but it’s a crime if you lie to them, adopting federal accounting practices in your own business is a good way to get sent to prison, and so forth. But the double standard asked for here could wind up being — well, to coin a phrase, as bald as a Rockville lawn.

More: From the Washington Post’s piece, quoting a retired minister who lives in Silver Spring: “My lawn is such a little fragment of American Freedom. Please respect it.” [cross-posted from Overlawyered]

More: Kojo Nnamdi Show, Euvoluntary Exchange (more on provisions of bill, including enumeration of “non-essential” pesticides to be restricted, a list that incorporates by reference lists in use in other jurisdictions like Ontario and the European Commission and grants the county executive authority to name others; links back to this county document); Gazette in October; Brad Matthews, Watchdog. And: George Leventhal gets a less-than-fully-polite reception defending the proposal on WMAL.

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In miniature, March 9

  • Good for (many) Democratic lawmakers for proposing reforms of Maryland civil forfeiture law [Maryland Reporter; Cato and Overlawyered resources on forfeiture]
  • Input sought from one side only: pro-rail group Action Committee for Transit tries to stop Purple Line debate sponsored by Maryland Public Policy Institute [BethesdaNow, Randal O’Toole on WTOP]
  • “My lawn is such a little fragment of American Freedom,” wrote a retired minister who lives in Silver Spring. “Please respect it.” He sure picked the wrong county to live in, didn’t he? [Washington Post on proposed Montgomery County lawn pesticide ban]
  • DC and Virginia move to legalize Uber and Lyft, time to catch up [Washington Post]
  • Bipartisan group of lawmakers seek to roll back excessive school testing; Del. David Vogt believes Gov. Hogan has legal authority to get the state out of PARCC [Maryland Reporter, WFMD, Kelsey Harkness/Daily Signal]
  • Business gears up to fight combined-reporting tax proposals [Rebecca Lessner/Maryland Reporter, more]

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MoCo: CPS will track parents who let kids walk home from park

Cross-posted from Overlawyered, earlier here:

“The long-awaited decision from Montgomery County Child Protective Services has arrived at the home of Danielle and Alex Meitiv, and it finds them ‘responsible’ for ‘unsubstantiated child neglect’ for letting their kids walk outside, unsupervised. If that decision makes no sense to you, either — how can parents be responsible for something that is unsubstantiated? — welcome to the place where common sense crashes into bureaucratic craziness.” [Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids] The “finding of unsubstantiated child neglect means CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision.” [Donna St. George, Washington Post] Earlier here and here.

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