Thursday, February 7, 2013

Comptroller in the Crosshairs (Thursday LINKS)

Michael Dresser in The Sun reports that Delegate Dereck Davis, a Prince George's County Democrat, has introduced a bill in the House that would transfer the Comptroller's power to tax and regulate alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.  Seeing as this bill was offered unilaterally, without the support (or consultation) of Comptroller Peter Franchot, it is apparent that this bill is a shot across the bow for Franchot's steps out of line on issues like casinos, gas taxes, and special sessions.  As Dresser notes, Delegate Davis was a "staunch backer" of gambling expansion back in 2012.

Here's my favorite quote of the piece:

"It's unfortunate if he thinks a legitimate policy discussion revolves around him," said Davis, who chairs the House Economic Committee and is a member of Speaker Michael E. Busch's leadership team.

Oh is it?

There are two kinds of people who "love politics".  There are those who will talk policy all day long and look at every issue like a puzzle waiting to be solved.  There are also those who wish they made more gangster movies.  They love the obscure committee assignments, lost invitations, and district lines just on the other side of an incumbent's lawn.  That's "politics" to them.  The policy stuff is for the fluff-birds to twitter on about while the "real men" (there is machismo here) wield power.

This whole episode has the latter crew flexing their muscles and watching re-runs of the A-Team.  It is bald political retribution of the worst kind.  In this case, it fundamentally changes the operation of an office that has operated quite effectively for the past six years.  This power finds itself in the gray area between the tax authority and the regulation authority, but in light of the fact that smuggling is brought on due to significant taxes (neighboring states have lower tobacco taxes), it makes sense to bundle these powers with the Comptroller.

This bill will be sent for a cost estimate and Delegate Davis has indicated that if it is high (creating an entirely new department, shifting personnel, and constructing new organizational infrastructure tends to be costly), he does not plan to pursue it any further.  It seems to me that the Delegate was caught in the midst of his political bullying and would like us all to know that "I wasn't gonna hurt him or nuthin'.  We're friends, right Petey?"

I hope to see this bill go away.  The Democratic party has this State locked up.  As such, it is good to see some disagreement amongst party leaders to create some measure of vetting for legislation before it becomes law.  The Comptroller has frustrated a number of people over the last six years, and probably will do so for another six, but changing the office in which he sits is just bad policy. 


I've seen estimates from 1,500 to 5,000 people showed up in Annapolis for a pro-gun rights rally on Lawyer's Mall.  Governor O'Malley testified before a Senate sub-committee considering his proposed assault weapons ban.

The United States Postal Service will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays.  That makes sense to me and is long overdue.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: WB notes that he has found inspiration to write from his ideological opponents.  You can count me as one of those who is very thankful for that. 

That's all for today.  Have a great Thursday doing what you love!