Monthly Archives: May 2016

Taxes and the wish to leave

Gallup finds that even after controlling for other factors, there’s a “strong relationship” between total tax burden and the level of desire to leave a state [Steve Malanga, City Journal] And just a reminder of its relevance to us: “Maryland Has the 7th Highest State and Local Tax Burden” [Randolph May, Free State Foundation]

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In miniature, May 22

  • The graphics department at the Frederick News-Post needs to go back to school on the “bar chart baselines should start at zero” rule [graphic; more on rule here and here].
  • State’s attorney Mosby, in Freddie Gray trial, charges false arrest as assault, a “pretty radical theory” if accepted [Kate Levine/PrawfsBlawg] More: officer Nero acquitted at bench trial, Gray family lawyer Billy Murphy responds in judicious and non-incendiary manner;
  • A tiny step forward, lifting just one redundant burden on gun owners, but in Maryland any progress is welcome [NRA News on Gov. Hogan’s signing of HB 312 (Saab/Hough) repealing redundant fingerprinting requirement]
  • Frederick county police got a new armored vehicle and now city police want one too, which I could understand if the two were expecting to fight each other [Jeremy Arias, Frederick News-Post]
  • Horrible package of new laws regulating pay: a reminder why veto-proof Democratic rule in Annapolis needs to end [Vox]
  • Its economy closely related to trade, Maryland stands to be hurt by White House candidates’ swing toward protectionism [Joelle Lang, Auburn Mann and Troy Jefferson, CNS/Maryland Reporter]

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Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery wins labeling fight and launches “First Amendment Society”

A great story starring one of our community’s favorite businesses:

Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery won in its battle with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, after the agency tried to ban the sale of Flying Dog’s delicious, Belgian-style IPA because of the brew’s name: Raging Bitch….

Now, Flying Dog has announced that it will use the damages received in that case to found the ‘1st Amendment Society,’ a non-profit dedicated to awareness-raising and advocacy around free-speech issues and organizing events that promote “the arts, journalism and civil liberties.”

Flying Dog will launch the organization with a May 31 event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., featuring constitutional lawyer Alan Gura. Some of the society’s first orders of business will be establishing a scholarship at the University of Maryland’s College of Journalism and hosting a banned-book club this summer at Flying Dog Brewery.

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Gov. Hogan signs forfeiture reform

Gov. Larry Hogan yesterday signed an important package of reforms to forfeiture law in Maryland. Applause to all who helped make this happen, including Sen. Michael Hough, Rob Peccola and Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice, and Gov. Hogan.

P.S. Some coverage of a January press event in which I participated at the Capitol, calling attention to the case for asset forfeiture reform in Maryland: Frederick News-Post, Maryland ReporterWBAL.

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Gov. Hogan on redistricting reform

While redistricting reform did not pass this year — or even get a committee or floor vote from the ruling Democrats — Gov. Larry Hogan will “probably come back and fight some more. It’s an issue I really care about.” [Len Lazarick interview, Maryland Reporter]

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In miniature, May 9

  • Reminder: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, winner of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, was deeply involved in the push for an IRS squeeze on right-leaning nonprofits that led to the Lois Lerner scandal;
  • I was a guest of Prince George’s County criminal defense lawyer Mirriam Seddiq and our very wide-ranging interview included some local topics [podcast via Overlawyered]
  • Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware all offer retirees a better deal, which might be why a proposal for sizable Maryland tax exemptions for pension income is now forthcoming from the liberal side of the aisle in Annapolis, namely Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick) [Maryland Reporter]
  • Also introduced by Del. Young, and one to watch assuming it returns next year: 2016 MD HB 56, the Right to Try Act for Experimental Drugs [Maryland Legislative Watch]
  • Sponsors of Poultry Litter Management Act keep claiming it’s pro-farmer, but most actual farmers sure seem to oppose it [DelmarvaNow, Maryland Reporter]
  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s Reason article on how the war on sex trafficking is shaping up as the new Drug War won a magazine award, which makes a good occasion to bring up Brown’s post countering a flawed Capital News Service series on human trafficking in Maryland.

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Szeliga, on the marriage battle: “It’s definitely been settled.”

At the WBFF debate for Republican Senate candidates in March, interviewer Kai Jackson (at 35:30) asked a question on same-sex marriage. This might have seemed a set-up for candidate Chrys Kefalas to volunteer something about his own pathbreaking role as a candidate who was gay (and engaged to be married, to radio personality Tommy McFly). But Kefalas didn’t personalize his answer; while indicating his support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, he also emphasized that he took seriously conservative concerns that legal changes might curtail the liberty of religious institutions, and would work to uphold religious liberty if elected.

Equally interesting was the answer of Minority Whip Del. Kathy Szeliga, who was to go on to win the primary in a runaway, and was generally perceived as running to Kefalas’s right. “This has been a divisive issue in the past but it’s definitely been settled. It was settled on the ballot here in Maryland and it’s been settled in the courts.” Del. Szeliga then added that the voters whose concerns she was running to address were worried not about gay marriage but about the troubles of the U.S. economy and the poor performance of federal programs like the Affordable Care Act.

Del. Szeliga’s answer, it seemed to me, would not have been out of place in an interview response by Gov. Larry Hogan or presidential candidate John Kasich. It signaled that she intends to go after the votes of independents and moderate Democrats this fall, a smart strategy for a Republican running statewide in a state like Maryland.

That wasn’t the only favorable portent on Maryland Republicans’ ability to move beyond past divisions on the marriage issue. Two years ago I wrote with some dismay (“An endorsement no one should want”) about how dozens of Maryland Republican candidates had received (though it was less clear whether they had sought) high ratings from “the group associated with Robert Broadus called Protect Marriage Maryland,” which “stands out for its intense hostility toward gay people, its very explicit grounding of that hostility in religious doctrine, and its willingness to use invective seldom found in polite company any more.” This time around, whether because Protect Marriage Maryland was less active or because fewer candidates pursued its endorsement or filled out its questionnaire, its endorsement page limited itself to endorsing a single Republican, Senate candidate Dave Wallace, who came in fifth. Robert Broadus himself ran for the Republican nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives in District 4, but finished third, behind George McDermott and David Therrien.

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