Monthly Archives: April 2019

Baltimore tries to seize the Preakness

Now unpaywalled: my WSJ opinion piece on the city of Baltimore’s outrageous move to use powers of eminent domain to seize the venerable Preakness thoroughbred horse race as well as its associated Pimlico racetrack. Earlier here and more generally here. [cross-posted from Overlawyered]


Filed under Law

Grace’s Law 2.0: Maryland doubles down on criminalizing online speech

“We’re not interested in charging children or putting them in jail or fining them,” says a campaigner for Maryland’s “cyber-bullying” law, “Grace’s Law 2.0,” which is drafted to do exactly those things. “What we want to do is change the behavior so the internet is more kind,” says the same campaigner regarding the new law, which would encourage online users to turn each other in for potential 10-year prison terms over single instances of certain kinds of malicious, abusive speech, and is being billed as going farther than any other law in the country, as well as farther than the earlier Maryland law passed in 2013.

Bruce DePuyt at Maryland Matters reports that Senate Judiciary Chair Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County):

said the 2013 law required that abusive comments be sent to the individual and be part of a pattern of conduct. With the rise of social media, that proved to be too high a hurdle, he said.

Under the new law, “a single significant act can land you in trouble,” he told reporters.

Due credit to the ACLU of Maryland, which called out this dangerous venture in speech regulation:

Toni Holness, the group’s public policy director, said in February that the bill fails to adequately define what constitutes a “true threat.”

Holness also was concerned about other words in the bill that had not been defined: encourage, provoke, sexual information, intimidating, tormenting.

“There’s way too much prosecutorial discretion in these terms that are not defined,” she said.

I criticized the bill in February and noted language from Zirkin suggesting that the Court of Appeals, as distinct from the legislature, would sort out its constitutionality. Before that, I criticized the 2015 law as itself going too far (more). DePuyt reports that Zirkin may approach U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) about introducing a similar bill on the federal level. Let’s hope Raskin says no to that bad idea.

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Filed under Law, Policy

In miniature, April 10

Sine Die edition:

  • General Assembly declined chance to fix Sixth District gerrymander, rolling the dice on whether Supreme Court ruling will lead to crisis in mid-summer [Tamela Baker, Herald-Mail (Hagerstown); Samantha Hogan, Frederick News Post; earlier]
  • Not only was it a win for well-heeled alcohol interests when the General Assembly snatched liquor regulatory powers away from Comptroller Peter Franchot, but it also pleased some advocates of nanny state controls on alcohol, who also prefer a regime of higher prices and less competition. Bad all ’round;
  • Sens. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore) and Michael Hough (R-Frederick County) are right: doing away with statutes of limitations would be an engine of new injustice, and the General Assembly was right not to pass the bill by Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles County) attempting to change that [Danielle Gaines, Maryland Matters]
  • How’d the Maryland Senate come to *unanimously* approve a late-filed asbestos-suit $$$ grab that even Brian Frosh’s office says could be held unconstitutional? Ask Peter Angelos and Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher [Bruce DePuyt, Maryland Matters, Danielle Gaines (Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera appears before committee “to underscore for you how deeply we oppose this attempt to intrude upon the Judiciary”), more (Frosh)]
  • Glad these didn’t pass: “just cause eviction” bill would have impaired property rights and economic vitality in Montgomery County [unfavorable House report; Harvey Jacobs, WTOP]; various restrictions on gun rights, although the Assembly did abolish the handgun permits board to which citizens could appeal adverse police decisions; “source of income discrimination” legislation that would have compelled landlords to participate in the Section 8 voucher program [unfavorable report, withdrawn]; collective bargaining for student athletes [unfavorable report, withdrawn; Bruce DePuyt, Maryland Matters]
  • If your Maryland business pays dues to a statewide business advocacy org that didn’t scream bloody murder about the terrible $15 wage bill, time to replace that org’s salaried leadership and prepare to rebuild [Richard Douglas, Maryland Reporter, earlier]

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Filed under Roundups

Sixth District remap panel wraps up its work — and a word from Arnie

Our Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering sent a proposed new Sixth and Eighth District map to Governor Hogan last week, which he immediately introduced as legislation. On Monday morning, again by a unanimous vote, we approved our final report to send to the governor, which was published yesterday. The core of the report, summarizing the public hearings and map submissions and explaining our choices and recommendations, is not long: pp. 14-25. So check it out.

You should also listen to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the subject:

More coverage, mixing the Supreme Court case from last week with mentions of our remedial efforts: Samantha Hogan, Frederick News Post (with picture) and earlier, Bruce DePuyt and Robin Bravender, Maryland Matters (also with good pictures), Tamela Baker, Herald-Mail (Hagerstown), Jennifer Barrios, Washington Post, Kimberly Eiten/WJZ, Dominique Maria Bonessi, WAMU; Maryland Association of Counties, Conduit Street podcast (redistricting segment is c. 21.30-30.00).

Also, Nina Totenberg’s approach to Schwarzenegger on the Supreme Court steps became a viral meme and I’m in it:

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Filed under Policy

In the Washington Post on the $15 wage bill

New from me and Cato colleague Ryan Bourne in the Washington Post [Cato reprint]:

One thing we’ve learned in this year’s debate over a statewide $15 minimum wage, now set to become law after the legislature overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto today, is that affluent central Maryland doesn’t want to listen to hard-hit rural Maryland….

In the debate over the $15 minimum wage, lawmakers from [already high-wage] Montgomery County, Baltimore City and Howard County were nearly unanimously in favor, with most delegates supporting strong versions of the scheme. Meanwhile, most lawmakers from depressed parts of the state were passionately opposed.

Guess who had the numbers to outvote whom?…

Affluent sections of Maryland can vote for $15 without much worry that a large share of their job base will disappear. Poor counties can’t.

Related: Earlier observations of mine on the bill here. “The article Alan Krueger wrote that I wish Fight For 15 advocates would read.” Highly informative Jacob Vigdor/Russ Roberts interview on the Seattle studies, and on the strategies that employers (restaurants in particular) use to adjust [David Henderson, Econlib] More on the problems of applying a uniform law to portions of the country with seriously different wage levels and costs of living [Daniel McLaughlin, NRO] Ryan Bourne on adjustments at Whole Foods following its accession under political pressure to a $15 minimum [Cato]. [adapted from Overlawyered]

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