Public health nannies, big alcohol lobbyists and intraparty rivals are all gunning for Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, so I figure he must be doing something right. Danielle Gaines reports.
To spell out what Franchot is doing right, he’s been pursuing a pro-consumer, pro-market, pro-competition agenda that would ease the way for craft beer and wine producers and other newcomers to offer buyers more choices at lower prices. Public health nannies like those at Hopkins’s Bloomberg Center don’t like that because they think drinks should be more expensive and harder to get, for your own good you understand. Big alcohol lobbyists don’t like it because their business model is premised on maintaining scarcer and more expensive choices with less competition. And intraparty rivals don’t like it because Franchot — though a Democrat of a rather liberal stripe — is happy to cooperate with Republicans like Gov. Larry Hogan to get things done.
Meanwhile, faced with intractable resistance among the majority legislative leadership in Annapolis to modernizing and easing craft beer regulations, Flying Dog Brewery has bailed out on its plans for a big expansion in east Frederick and put the land up for sale. Bad law has consequences.
According to David Lublin and Adam Pagnucco at Seventh State, Montgomery County’s government liquor monopoly, under attack by Comptroller Peter Franchot and others, makes a broad and inviting target: it’s deeply unpopular with the public, not really needed for revenue, and its reform offers an opening for political newcomers, what with most of the incumbent council choosing to side against consumer interests and with MCGEO, which represents county store workers and “acts like a union out of Republican central casting, attempting to bully its opponents into submission.”
“We’re probably the worst, most regulated county in the entire country” on alcohol sales: Comptroller Peter Franchot has a thing or two to say about the need for Montgomery County to ditch its county-run liquor system (via). The Seventh State has run an illuminating exchange on the subject lately, and Bethesda Magazine has details of a partial privatization plan.
“In the ensuing 1794 Whiskey Rebellion…the locus for noncompliance and violence against tax agents was largely western Pennsylvania, but not entirely. Early local newspapers reported disturbances, such as the erection of 1776-style townsquare liberty poles, in Cumberland, Hagerstown, and Middletown….At one point, even Frederick was tense — rumor had ‘the Whiskey Boys’ headed that way, to empty its state arsenal of weapons.” — James H. Bready, “Maryland Rye: A Whiskey the Nation Long Fancied — But Now Has Let Vanish,” Maryland Historical Magazine, Winter 1990. “To a legion of fanciers, the best Maryland Rye was on a par with whatever else might be nominated as the ne plus ultra of American whiskey.”
- Hogan cites “inclusive message focused on ‘fiscal responsibility and common sense,” downplaying of social issues for what’s now being widely hailed as the biggest upset victory of Election 2014 [CBS, auto-plays] “Some Democrats say they ‘got the message’ from Hogan’s election [Len Lazarick]
- Finally, a decent chance for liquor sales reform in Montgomery County? [David Lublin, The Seventh State]
- “Ideas for improving Maryland for small business” [Luke McGowan]
- Home “ripped apart” in Damascus as party-raid police get frisky [Radley Balko]
- For new chair of Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, lefty Jamie Raskin (D-Silver Spring) or trial lawyer Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County)? [Josh Kurtz, Center Maryland]
- In Supreme Court oral argument on Maryland counties’ taxation of income earned out of state, Justice Scalia was one who seemed sympathetic to the tax collector’s side [Daniel Fisher]
Filed under Policy, Politics