In miniature, May 27

  • “Poll: 61 percent of D.C.-area residents favor plan to add toll lanes to Beltway, I-270” and the same number prevails in Montgomery County although you’d never know it from the county’s political leadership [Katherine Shaver and Emily Guskin, Washington Post] “Maryland has pledged – and federal law requires – that the number of toll-free lanes will not be reduced.” [Bruce DePuyt, Maryland Matters]
  • Sen. Bob Cassilly (R-Harford): “Kirwan will bankrupt the State of Maryland” [Erika Butler, Harford Aegis]
  • “Property Rights Matter: Lessons from a Failing City” [Stephen J.K. Walters, Law and Liberty; my two cents on eminent domain, Pimlico, and the Preakness Stakes]
  • Thanks WBAL host Yuripzy Morgan for mentioning me in discussing the (bad) idea of a law capping credit card interest rates [audio]
  • Thread on Baltimore’s crisis of development and corruption [Brian Gaither on Twitter]
  • In its first three months after implementation Maryland’s “red flag” law “prompted more than 300 protective orders across the state,” and an Anne Arundel man was shot dead by county officers while being served a gun confiscation order [Natalie Jones, Capital News Service/Maryland Matters]

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Franchot’s bad idea: sanctions against Alabama

Comptroller Peter Franchot is normally one of the more level-headed Maryland electeds, but this latest idea of his, to adopt state sanctions against Alabama after its enactment of a sweeping ban on abortion, is quite bad. (Included in the sanctions would be restrictions on pension investments and travel by employees of the Comptroller’s office.) Boycotts by states of other states damage national unity, operate like internal trade barriers, invite retaliation, and these days nearly always fail. (Admittedly, they might make sense as a tactic for use in scenarios of impending civil war.)

For those of us who favor lifting trade sanctions against, say, Cuba, a regime that is 1) anti-American, 2) Communist, and 3) not even part of our own country, the wrongness of official sanctions and divestment against other U.S. states should be an easy call. See more at Overlawyered here, here, and here.

Culture War Tomorrow, Comity Tonight.

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Maryland: sixth best state to live in, but absolute worst to retire?

The good news: Maryland has jumped to 6th from last year’s 13th in U.S. News’s best-states rankings, with abundant amenities now united with a reasonably prosperous economy.

The bad news: Maryland ranks absolute last as a place to retire in MoneyWise’s 50-state survey, abundant amenities or no, because of tough tax treatment of retirement income as well as high living and health care costs. According to that story, “both Bankrate and Kiplinger rank Maryland the No. 48 state, and WalletHub ranks it No. 41.”

That’s one reason to support Gov. Hogan’s proposals to begin lightening the tax treatment of retirement income, as well as to refrain from costly new legal mandates that work to drive up living and health costs yet further. Ours should be a multi-generational state.

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On Jennifer Charlton’s WFMD “Success Happens”

Jennifer Charlton and I talked about the work of the upcoming Frederick County Charter Review Commission, along with other topics, on her WFMD show last weekend. You can listen here. More on the charter review process at the FNP.

I forgot to post it at the time, but you can also listen to a recent appearance I did on Jerry Rogers’s new WBAL show. We discussed among other topics the then-pending nomination of Judge Neomi Rao as a judge on the D.C. Circuit; she has since been confirmed.

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Should Frederick take Gov. Thomas Johnson’s name off TJ high school?

Peter Samuel’s letter to the editor in the Frederick News-Post hits the right points: it’s not wrong to memorialize founders and framers whose historical notability lies in their works of positive benefit to the nation, and that goes for Frederick’s Gov. Thomas Johnson as well as for figures like Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. In a Twitter thread, I get into some of my disagreements with the original front-page FNP piece by reporter Wyatt Massey.

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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]

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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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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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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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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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