“Why Does Maryland Hate Airbnb?”

“A bill given serious consideration in Annapolis this spring would require platforms like Airbnb to collect detailed information about hosts and guests, retain it for up to four years, and turn it over to the state government if requested. Failure to comply with any of the rules would result in $500 fines for individual hosts, with each further violation adding another $500 to the tab. Critics say the privacy concerns and escalating fines are clearly meant to deter would-be hosts from renting out their spaces. The bill’s sponsor, Del. William Frick (D–Montgomery County), hails from the district that not-so-coincidentally contains Marriott’s new, state-subsidized corporate headquarters.” [Eric Boehm, Reason]

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In miniature, July 4

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State Democrats meddle — to no avail — in District 3 primary

My June 18 letter to the editor in the Frederick News-Post urged county political leadership to condemn the deceitful mailer series launched by state Democrats seeking to meddle in the District 3 Senate primary. I was responding to the first mailer in what turned out to be a series of six, ostensibly critical of councilmember Billy Shreve as being too close to President Trump but in fact sent to Republicans in the apparent hope of boosting Shreve’s chances of being the GOP nominee.

Sen. Michael Hough, Republican senator for adjacent District 4, went on Jennifer Charlton’s WFMD radio show to explain (at 13:45 in this clip) how the “Todd Akin” gambit works. At 16:20 he says:

The Democrats are going to drop about fifty thousand bucks into this primary on behalf of Billy Shreve. And the part that really is outrageous? Billy Shreve went on a radio show and laughed about it and said, “I share a lot of common interests with them. I like these guys.” He thinks it’s great. To me, I find it totally outrageous and it would be very destructive, quite frankly, if they’re allowed to get away with this.

The next week I was a guest on Jennifer’s show and had a chance to discuss the issue myself.

I can report that the series of six expensive mailers appears to have been an almost complete waste of the Democrats’ money: Craig Giangrande won in a blowout, 77 to 23 percent.

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“Equity policy” scheme aims at injecting racial politics into every Montgomery County decision

A project of Councilmember Nancy Navarro, it goes too far even for three Democrats representing the saner end of their party’s spectrum in the County Executive race, Rose Krasnow, David Blair, and Bill Frick. It is backed by three other council members currently running for that higher post, Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal. [Seventh State]

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In miniature, June 5

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Good news: Maryland’s lawsuit-climate ranking improves

At least by comparison with other states: Maryland’s U.S. Chamber rank among the states in lawsuit climate has been rising, from #33 in 2012 to #28 in 2015 to #19 in 2017. “This is the first time Maryland has been ranked higher than 20th place since the survey was first published in 2002.” [Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]

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Some thoughts on conversion-therapy bans

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has signed into law the bill banning “conversion therapy” for minors. He is the fifth Republican governor to sign such a bill.

Now that it’s too late to matter, I’m going to be contrarian and observe that even if one considers the exercise of “gay cure” therapy on kids as quackery deserving of scorn and condemnation (which is basically my view) there are reasons that might give pause not to legislate a ban. They include:

1) Some under-18 persons may seek this therapy of their own will and not all necessarily do so under pressure from the adults in their lives;

2) Legislatures may not be a good place to define and ban quack therapies compared with, say, expert professional bodies or courts hearing malpractice cases;

3) In Maryland, or so I am told, such practice is already defunct because of peer pressure and malpractice-risk scrutiny, even if it continues in some other states;

4) These laws have a momentum and before long legislatures may be asked to ban it even for consenting adults and from lay as opposed to licensed therapists, maybe even in do-it-yourself formats like kits or books (as critics say would be the effect of legislation in California);

5) Religion is special under the Constitution and this would not be the first time government might want to tread extra-carefully around quack therapeutic practices that are closely tied up with believers’ religious convictions;

6) While the failings of orientation-change therapy have been well aired for years, we might not be as far along in understanding the different issues presented by therapy in the area of gender expression. .

All of which helps explain persons I respect might come out on either side.

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In miniature, May 10

  • Baltimore city schools, which say they can’t afford to heat buildings adequately in winter, have 44 employees who earn more than Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan [Chris Papst, WBFF] “School bus driver in fatal 2016 crash was involved in at least a dozen collisions or medical emergencies in the five years prior.” [Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun]
  • Good question: “Why did Republicans Oppose Free Market Alcohol Reforms?” [Brian Griffiths, Red Maryland]
  • Metro’s misery: “ATU Local 689 has fought against firing track inspectors who falsified inspection reports and put public safety at risk.” [David Lublin]
  • “Free Speech Index: Grading the 50 States on Political Giving Freedom” Alas, Maryland ranks 46th and gets an F. [Institute for Free Speech]
  • College Park, Hyattsville prepare to let non-citizens vote. Illegals too? [Sapna Rampersaud, NRO]
  • “Opinion: A tipped server from Seattle says Madaleno’s $15 minimum wage bill cuts incomes” [Simone Barron, Maryland Reporter] “The unintended victims of a $15 minimum wage are small businesses and their employees” [Mike O’Halloran, NFIB]

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Should the EPA fund the Chesapeake Bay Journal?

I like advocacy journalism as well as the next fellow — at least I consume a lot of it as a reader. That doesn’t mean the federal government should be funding it, thereby giving a boost to one side of environmental debates in the mid-Atlantic region. My new piece for the DC Examiner examines the Environmental Protection Agency’s longstanding subsidies for the influential Chesapeake Bay Journal. (cross-posted from Overlawyered)

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Seen and heard on redistricting reform

Last month the Supreme Court heard oral argument (transcript) in Benisek v. Lamone, the challenge to Maryland’s gerrymandered Sixth District. I was there with some critics of the gerrymander in front of the Court steps and spoke to a number of reporters afterward [Danielle Gaines, Frederick News-Post; Bruce DePuyt, Maryland Matters] See also Eric Boehm, Reason. Earlier here. Background links on Maryland case: Cynthia Prairie, Maryland Reporter in January.

I was interviewed by reporter Tom Fitzgerald for WTTG Fox 5 in front of the Court, and joined anchor/host Jason Newton and Goucher pollster Mileah Kromer on WBAL’s “TV Hill.” You can also listen through Facebook to my appearance on WFMD with Dave Schmidt and Darren Wigfield on redistricting

New audio contributions include a Cato Daily Podcast in which I’m interviewed by Caleb Brown, and a narrator’s reading for Cato’s “Cato Out Loud” feature of my recent piece on why libertarians and others should oppose gerrymandering:

Finally, I’m also in the question period a bit more than two-thirds through this Federalist Society program featuring former Rep. Chris Shays (R-Ct.) and Weekly Standard senior writer Jay Cost.

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