Monthly Archives: January 2016

A downtown Frederick hotel and conference center? No public funds, please

Plans are now well afoot to use tax money and Maryland Stadium Authority public bonding to build a new conference center and hotel in downtown Frederick. I have no opinion (nor is it really my business) whether such a conference center and hotel deserve to get built, but if they do, they should stand on their own feet financially and not draw on taxpayers or their guarantees:

* I think the (R) majority of the county’s delegation in Annapolis are wise not to support a hike in the county’s hotel tax — paid by innkeepers and their customers county-wide, from New Market to Middletown to Emmitsburg — intended to channel funds to a conference center that would disproportionately benefit one downtown hotel.

* A public-sector Maryland Stadium Authority is not a proper function of government to begin with and letting it get into funding conference centers and the like makes everything worse. If the calamitous money pit that is the Baltimore Hilton convention center is not enough to give this sort of public bond-backed project a bad name in our state, what ever will? Just say no to MSA.

* Preservationists are up in arms about the project’s possible impact on one of Frederick’s chief tourism, lifestyle, and relocation selling points, its nationally famed, beautifully human-scale historic district. Without prejudging this debate, I would just note that in other cities, publicly funded trophy projects have badly hurt historic downtowns, leading to regret later.

If private demand for conference services is not sufficient to call forth private financing on the scale desired, maybe that should be a flashing amber light about the project as currently conceived.

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Filed under Policy

In miniature, January 24

  • Montgomery County officials helped plant letters praising speed cameras in local press [The Newspaper]
  • After state panel recommends 22 steps to improve police-community relations, Fraternal Order of Police rejects “any and all” reforms [Anthony Fisher, Reason] Earlier: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recommends 11 changes to LEOBR police “bill of rights” law [Baltimore Sun, text of letter, previously October and more]
  • “Why Beretta is moving its gun factory to Tennessee” [CNN]
  • “10 Things I Learn Reading Jury Verdicts and Settlements” [Ronald Miller]
  • “It’s time to stop prioritizing political interests over voting rights. We need independent redistricting reform.” [Rep. Donna Edwards on Twitter]
  • From six years ago, but still relevant: Len Lazarick, “Curing Maryland’s Structural Deficits: A Call for Mandate Reform” [Free State Foundation, PDF]

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Correcting the record: Question 6 and religious liberty protections

At Red Maryland (page archive), Brian Griffiths writes the following:

Something that should have been obvious from the get go but 2012’s Question 6, which was supported by Maryland Democrats and current Republican Senate candidate Chrys Kefalas, contained not a single provision protecting the religious liberties of any Marylanders.

To begin with a parenthetical issue, invoking Chrys Kefalas seems a little gratuitous, since Question 6 was supported not only by a majority of Maryland voters but by a number of elected Republicans like now-Howard County executive Allan Kittleman (and opposed by some elected Democrats). What is not gratuitous, but simply wrong, is Griffiths’ assertion about the bill’s contents, even as he links its synopsis, which even at a glance shows the contrary:

Altering a provision of law to establish that only a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in the State; prohibiting an official of a religious order or body authorized to perform a marriage ceremony from being required to solemnize or officiate at a marriage or religious rite of a marriage in violation of the constitutional right to free exercise of religion; making the Act contingent on the resolution of litigation under specified circumstances; etc.

Emphasis added. And that was only one of a series of religious- and conscience-protecting provisions in Sections II, III, and IV. The bill’s full text, linked from the history/synopsis page, summarizes these additional provisions in its prefatory description of purposes:

…establishing that certain religious entities have exclusive control over their own theological doctrine, policy teachings, or beliefs regarding who may marry within that faith; prohibiting certain officials from being subject to any fine or penalty for failing or refusing to join individuals in marriage; prohibiting certain religious entities from being required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual under certain circumstances; providing that a certain refusal by a certain religious entity or an individual employed by a certain religious entity may not create a civil claim or cause of action or result in any State action to penalize, withhold benefits from, or discriminate against such entities or individuals; prohibiting certain fraternal benefit societies from being required to admit an individual as a member or provide insurance benefits to an individual under certain circumstances; providing that a certain refusal by a certain fraternal benefit society may not create a civil claim or cause of action or constitute the basis for the withholding of governmental benefits or services from the fraternal benefit society; …

Hat tip for noticing this error to David Lublin at Seventh State. Lublin’s point of view on some of the other issues involved differs from my own, but I agree on one point: Red Maryland owes Kefalas in particular an apology. And while we’re at it, after this and the recent episode involving CD-6 candidate Amie Hoeber, would anyone regard Red Maryland as a suitably impartial sponsor for a debate between Kefalas and other Republican Senate candidates?

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Filed under Law

In miniature, January 10

  • A supposed civil right to wasteful spending: per ACLU of Maryland complaint, it’s race bias for Hogan administration to pull plug on grossly uneconomic Baltimore Red Line [Baltimore Sun] More: “worst and most counter-productive legal complaint that’s been filed in a long, long time” [Barry Rascovar, Maryland Reporter]
  • Trial lawyers want retroactive legislation to grab billions from manufacturers in lead paint suits. Maryland needs to say no [Baltimore Sun]
  • “I agree with decriminalization” — GOP Senate candidate Chris Kefalas on the Drug War [Fox Baltimore at 2:00; related City Paper (“Like a lot of Libertarian-leaning Republicans, Kefalas is opposed to the war on drugs, he says.”); note upcoming fundraising lunch]
  • Gov. Hogan’s commission on regulatory reform issues report; topics include one-stop permitting, occupational licensure;
  • If you’re feeling a bit hopeful about Baltimore, here’s Fred Siegel to knock you back down again [City Journal]
  • Few opinion pieces manage to call forth so many scathing reactions on so many different grounds [Tricia Bishop, Baltimore Sun via S.E.Cupp; national registry of gun owners, “like those for sex offenders,” would make it easier to decide on playdates, and privacy be damned]

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