Monthly Archives: December 2015

My letter in the FNP on illegal EPA lobbying

My local paper, the Frederick News-Post, ran an editorial on Monday that 1) saw nothing especially wrong in the Environmental Protection Agency’s illegally expending tax money to stir up pressure on Congress to support a wider interpretation of EPA power; 2) claimed that the fuss over tax-paid lobbying was for lack of any substantive critique of EPA’s “WOTUS” (Waters of the United States) rule, although a majority of states have challenged that rule, the farm and rural landowner communities have been up in arms against it all year, and a federal appeals court has agreed to stay it.

So I wrote this letter in response, which ran today. There wasn’t space for me to dispute the FNP’s peculiar notion that to oppose the water rule as exceeding the EPA’s statutory authority is to encourage the “anti-science, climate change denial crowd,” which tends to reinforce my sense that “anti-science” and “climate denial” are turning into all-purpose epithets increasingly unhooked from any particular relationship to science or climate. (cross-posted from Overlawyered)

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In miniature, December 21

  • “We’re going to overturn every rock in their lives to find out about their lifestyles” — Montgomery County liquor monopoly union chief Gino Renne, on his adversaries in the legislature [Bethesda Magazine “Bethesda Beat”]
  • Relatedly, no wonder Chinese is MoCo’s strong suit dining-wise: county booze system strangles higher-end eateries [Dave McIntyre, Washington Post]
  • Virginia plans to cut corporate tax rate, putting yet more pressure on Maryland to reduce its business tax burden [Baltimore Sun]
  • BaltimoreLink bus plan from Hogan administration “far sounder” than costly Red Line rail-based model [Nick Zaiac, Maryland Public Policy Institute, summary and paper]
  • Kelly Schulz, Chris Shank, Boyd Rutherford among those who participated in conference on Maryland prisoner re-entry put on by my old colleagues at the Manhattan Institute;
  • Guns and homeland defense: revisiting the story of the Maryland Minute Men of 1942 [Dave Kopel]

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My letter in the Washington Post on Baltimore evictions

I’ve got a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post. An excerpt:

The Dec. 11 Metro article “Baltimore eviction rate among highest in nation” reported on advocates’ efforts to change eviction procedures to allow Baltimore tenants to stay longer in rental housing even when they fail to pay their rent. One effect, of course, would be to make it even less attractive to offer and maintain rental properties in the hard-hit city.

Before going farther down such a road, it would help to review failures of existing Maryland housing policies….

And then I talk about Maryland lawmakers’ having enacted various legal changes to slow down foreclosures, and the unpleasant aftermath, a story told here. Why would a state want to go through a very similar wasteful, blight-encouraging exercise for rental property?

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Maryland leads nation in foreclosures

Unintended consequences: “It was the second consecutive month that Maryland led the nation in [the rate of] foreclosure filings, RealtyTrac said.” While filings nationwide were down 7 percent from a year earlier, those in Maryland were up 13 percent. [Baltimore Business Journal] We’ve noted before that although liberal legislators in Annapolis imagined they were doing poorer homeowners a favor by making the state’s foreclosure process so slow, the results have included unusual delays in bounce-back from housing recessions and persistent neighborhood blight. That’s to say nothing of the entrenchment of non-paying occupants in luxury homes for years at a stretch. To quote another commentator’s words in our March item:

“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]

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P.G. County banishes a loyal dog

We’ve covered “breed-specific” legal limitations on dog ownership, which often take the form of legislated curbs on particular breeds seen as dangerous, but have also cropped up in judicial rulings designating some breeds as inherently dangerous for purposes of strict liability. As we noted in 2013, after Maryland courts established elevated liability for bites by pit bulls, the result was continued pressure by insurers and landlords for families to abandon or relinquish pets “and a resulting flow of related breeds into the animal shelter system.” Now a story from Prince George’s County, Maryland, one of the larger jurisdictions to ban pit bulls: “A pit bull who stood by her injured owner while their house was on fire is now losing her home — not to the fire itself, but to a law prohibiting pit bulls from living in the county. … Back in May, Michigan’s Hazel Park lifted its pit bull ban in the wake of public outcry, after a dog credited with saving her owner from domestic violence was subsequently thrown out of town.” [Arin Greenwood, Huffington Post] (cross-posted from Overlawyered)

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