Monthly Archives: November 2015

In miniature, November 28

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Filed under Roundups

“Maryland Scraps ‘Gun Fingerprint’ Database as Complete Failure”

Maryland spent millions of dollars on a “ballistic fingerprints” database of thousands of handguns to identify those used in crime. “But the system — plagued by technological problems — never solved a single case.” Never mind, the intentions were good, right? [Michael Walsh/PJ Media, Eugene Volokh]

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Montgomery County liquor monopoly

According to David Lublin and Adam Pagnucco at Seventh State, Montgomery County’s government liquor monopoly, under attack by Comptroller Peter Franchot and others, makes a broad and inviting target: it’s deeply unpopular with the public, not really needed for revenue, and its reform offers an opening for political newcomers, what with most of the incumbent council choosing to side against consumer interests and with MCGEO, which represents county store workers and “acts like a union out of Republican central casting, attempting to bully its opponents into submission.”

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My adventures in redistricting reform (from Overlawyered)

What the reform panel is proposing is about as far removed from party bosses as feasible. …. one thing is clear, the commission is headed in the proper direction.

Baltimore Sun editorial, November 2

Gerrymandering is rife across the country, resulting in artificially drawn districts intended to protect or defeat certain incumbents, maximize one party’s share of power, or achieve other political goals. My own state of Maryland suffers from a famously awful Congressional gerrymander, including the notorious District 3, compared with a “broken-winged pterodactyl” or the blood splatters from a crime scene.

I’ve had a chance to do something about this problem over the past three months as co-chair of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, created by Gov. Larry Hogan in August to gather information and draft recommendations for a new and better way of doing things. Following public hearings, testimony from experts and considerable research, we filed our report with the governor on Tuesday.

Len Lazarick at Maryland Reporter sums up some of the key points. If enacted, our plan would make Maryland the only state in which elected legislators and the governor would no say at all — zero — in deciding who should sit on a line-drawing commission. Our plan follows several elements of California’s ground-breaking plan, including screening of volunteers and randomized pools, simplified and adapted to the circumstances of our smaller state. In addition to requiring congruence with county and city boundaries where possible, contiguity, and compactness, we would join a very few states in instructing the drafters of lines to ignore partisan indicators such as voter registration and past voting results, as well as the place of residence of incumbents or any other person.

Full report here. Some more coverage: Carroll County Times editorial; Naomi Eide, Capital News Service; Josh Hicks, Washington Post; Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun; Fox Baltimore; Jen Fifield, Frederick News-Post (this last quoting me at length, and see also this profile in August).

[cross-posted from Overlawyered]


Filed under Policy, Politics