Maryland Matters: Origin and Merits of Liquor Regulation Bill Lost Amid Personal Animus

The Senate panel that will decide the fate of a high-profile alcohol regulation bill appeared, at times, to be bystanders to a personality clash between the measure’s sponsor and the state’s tax collector. With Friday’s testimony generating as much heat as light, it was difficult to determine whether the legislation is likely to win the votes it will need to advance. Ostensibly, the leadoff witnesses, Sen. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery) and D. Bruce Poole, a former state delegate who chaired a task force on the health issues associated with alcohol, were there to advocate on behalf of the commission’s more than two dozen recommendations. Poole stuck mostly to the business at hand, describ

Maryland Matters: Franchot to File Ethics Complaint Against Senator Following Explosive Accusation a

Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) will file an ethics complaint against a member of the state Senate on Monday, following the lawmaker’s claim that Maryland’s tax collector “extorted” campaign contributions from liquor interests. Sen. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery) made the claim on Friday during testimony on a bill that would shift field enforcement of alcohol, cigarettes and gasoline sales from the Office of the Comptroller to a new five-person commission appointed by the governor. “There has never been another comptroller that has abused the power and the authority of this once-honorable office to extort hundreds and thousands of dollars from those industries the public entrusted him

Maryland Matters: Lawmakers, Comptroller Trade Jabs Before Hearings on Alcohol Regulation Bills

Two lawmakers backing high-profile alcohol reform legislation traded personal attacks Thursday with the state’s chief tax collector, impugning one another’s motives and character one day before public hearings on the bill. While the measure at the heart of the skirmish seeks to enact a series of recommendations put forward by a commission that studied alcohol sale and use in Maryland, it was the proposal to shift field enforcement of liquor, cigarette and gasoline sales from the Office of the Comptroller to a new, independent commission that ignited the most heated rhetoric during back-to-back, hour-long news conferences. Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) called the proposed shift “reckles

Baltimore Business Journal: Moving alcohol enforcement could cost $50M

A new analysis from Comptroller Peter Franchot’s office predicts transferring regulation and enforcement of alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel laws from his purview to a new commission could cost the state about $50 million. The expense would be spread out over a period of five years as the proposed new body builds an infrastructure for oversight, according to a report written by a policy analyst working in the comptroller’s office and released this week. Meanwhile, the state lawmaker who proposed the change disputes the estimate and urged the public to take it "with a real grain of salt." The $50 million estimate comes in response to an effort to strip away some of Franchot’s oversight powers.

Maryland Matters: Franchot: Switching Regulatory Powers to a New Agency Would Cost $50M

The Bureau of Revenue Estimates, an agency under the purview of state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D), issued a report Tuesday showing that stripping the comptroller’s office of its major regulatory duties would cost taxpayers almost $50 million over the next five years. The report, delivered to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, comes as the General Assembly considers legislation to move the Field Enforcement Division, which regulates alcohol, tobacco and motor fuels, from the comptroller’s office to a new commission under the governor’s authority. The legislation is the result of a years-long feud between Franchot and the lawmakers over alcohol policy and regulation – and

The Baltimore Sun: As Marylanders do their taxes, many are asking: Why'd I get such a big tax hi

Baltimore lawyer Eric Hontz had heard about how some blue, high-tax states like Maryland weren’t expected to fare well under the sweeping changes to the federal tax code that President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans enacted in 2017. But the 36-year-old Reservoir Hill resident didn’t realize how hard he’d be hit until he started doing his taxes. Hontz estimates he’ll have to pay thousands more in taxes this year than last — a burden he says will force him to rent out a room in his family’s house. “This is the continuing screwing over of the millennial generation,” he says. “It seems like the hardest ones hit are dual-income couples.” Across Maryland, many people are receiving simi

The Star Democrat: Franchot promotes Shop Maryland Energy initiative

CAMBRIDGE — Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Cambridge’s R. Brooks & Sons appliance store Wednesday, Feb. 13, to celebrate the store’s 50 years in business and promote the President’s Day weekend Shop Maryland Energy initiative. Customers can enjoy a tax-free weekend, from Saturday, Feb. 16, through Monday, Feb. 18, for qualifying Energy Star-rated home appliances. Products included in the 6-percent sales tax-break are air conditioners, washers, dryers, furnaces, heat pumps, boilers, standard-sized refrigerators, dehumidifiers, programmable thermostats and compact fluorescent light bulbs. “It all adds up to significant savings for Maryland customers who buy these appliances,” Franchot said

Herald Mail Media: Comments about FED nothing more than 'political retribution'

In the Feb. 9 article published by Herald-Mail Media (“Franchot takes aim at alcohol regulation bill, Poole says ‘refocus’”), former Del. Bruce Poole made comments about my Field Enforcement Division (FED) and the current legislative effort to remove this nationally recognized regulatory division — comprised of dedicated law enforcement officers and inspectors — from my agency. A correction of the record is warranted, to say the least. Mr. Poole, formerly the chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, led a task force that was legislatively mandated to study whether or not alcohol regulation should be transferred from my agency — where it has resided since 1936 — to a new, independent state age

WDVM: Peter Franchot presents "For Otis Sake Rescue" with the William Donald Schaefer Help

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Maryland Comptroller, Peter Franchot, visited Hagerstown Tuesday afternoon to present the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Washington County. He presented the award to "For Otis Sake Rescue", a non-profit that rescues at-risk dogs and cats. The organization was awarded for their nationwide efforts to rescue and rehome dogs sitting on death row in kill shelters. Laurie Brewer, the founder, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. "We thought it was a joke when we got the email. We didn't believe it, then Maureen from the comptroller's office called us and I thought this is real. So, we're just really humbled and grateful that our work has been recogn

Herald Mail Media: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot honors volunteer organization for saving dogs

In saluting the co-founders of a dog rescue organization Tuesday, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said his thoughts turned to his “best friend,” Henry. Henry is a yellow Labrador retriever. “I’m personally moved by the work you do,” he told Laurie Brewer and Kelly Middleton, co-founders of For Otis Sake. Citing his family’s fondness for their pet, Franchot said, “If anything is ever needed by Henry, no expense is ever spared.” For Otis Sake, founded in 2014, is named after another Labrador retriever. The organization rescues, rehabilitates and finds homes for at-risk dogs from underfunded and overcrowded shelters and animal control facilities across the country. The organization uses don

Southern Maryland Chronicle: Comptroller’s Office to Assist Maryland Federal Retirees Who Owe Debt

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 8, 2019) – The Maryland Comptroller’s Office will offer assistance to Maryland federal retirees who owe Maryland taxes and were subject to an offset of their federal pension by the U.S. Department of Treasury. On Feb. 1, the Treasury Department mailed notices to approximately 7,500 federal retirees in Maryland owing Maryland taxes as part of its Treasury Offset Program. The notice states that the Department of Treasury could withhold up to 25 percent from a retiree’s pension until the debt is resolved. The Maryland Comptroller’s Office’s Compliance Division will work with federal retirees and the Department of Treasury on a case by case basis, but the Comptroller’s O

Hagerstown Herald-Mail: Franchot takes aim at alcohol regulation bill, Poole says 'refocus'

ANNAPOLIS — Tensions over how and whether Maryland’s alcohol regulations should be reformed — and who should regulate them — have been brewing for a couple of years now. And new legislation on the question pending in the Maryland General Assembly has Comptroller Peter Franchot hopping mad. The bills, introduced by Sen. Ben Kramer, D-Montgomery, would take authority for regulating the alcohol — and motor fuel and tobacco — industries from the comptroller’s office, where it now resides, and create a separate agency for that; and would prohibit regulators from accepting contributions of $100 or more from anyone associated with any of those industries. They result from the recommendations of

Maryland Matters: In Latest Salvo, Franchot Wants Lawmakers to Renounce Liquor Industry Cash

Responding to legislation targeting his ability to raise money from the alcohol industry, which he currently regulates, state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) on Friday urged state lawmakers to renounce alcohol money as well. Franchot also urged House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) to “lead by example” by removing a prominent liquor distributor as his campaign treasurer. Franchot’s newest public declaration, delivered in a letter to Busch, is the latest salvo in the battle between the comptroller and the General Assembly over alcohol regulations and related issues – part of a broader war between the state’s tax collector and legislative leaders. Earlier this week, lawmakers int

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland comptroller blasts bill stripping his authority over the state's alc

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot blasted bills Tuesday that would strip away his office’s enforcement powers and limit the types of campaign donations he can accept. Franchot said the bills were vindictive measures that are not in the best interest of Marylanders. “It’s recrimination against me for being an advocate for small, family-owned craft brewers in Maryland,” Franchot, a Democrat, told reporters. Franchot is both the state’s chief tax collector and the regulator of the alcohol, tobacco and fuel industries in Maryland. He considers himself a champion of the state’s growing craft beer industry, after jumping on its side two years ago when Guinness proposed changes to alcohol laws to

The Baltimore Sun: Hogan, Franchot grill Maryland elections director Lamone over delayed release of

Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot on Wednesday grilled the administrator of Maryland’s elections — after problems on Election Day in November caused polls to stay open late and postponed the release of results for hours. The Maryland State Board of Elections did not post election results online on Election Day until after 10 p.m. — two hours after polls were scheduled to close in the state. Hogan said he and many others were frustrated they had had to wait for hours for the results to be announced. “This was a black eye for Maryland around the country,” Franchot told Maryland elections administrator Linda H. Lamone, who appeared before the spending panel. “They were making fun

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