They just don’t get it – and they never will, so it seems.
As much as the intrepid Jake Weissmann, the formidable Alex...
A Miner Detail: The 2019 Annapolis Session Winners and Losers [EXCERPT]
April 12, 2019
The Capital Gazette: Peter Franchot: Proposal to strip comptroller's powers is reckless, costly and unnecessary
March 10, 2019
For decades, the Office of the Maryland Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division has been enforcing and regulating the state’s alcohol, motor fuel and tobacco industries. More than 60 women and men work in the division, many of which are sworn law enforcement officers.
By all accounts, this division is doing outstanding work serving and protecting Marylanders from contraband alcohol and tobacco products and ensuring the safety of our fuel. In addition, the Field Enforcement Division has been going after tax fraud and identity theft scofflaws that seek to compromise the financial security of hardworking Marylanders.
Now, without any logical justification, the political leaders of the Annapolis machine have introduced legislation to break up the efficient operations of this nationally renowned regulatory division and create a duplicative new government body to carry out these duties by removing alcohol and tobacco enforcement from the division’s purview. The Maryland House of Delegates has passed this legislation already and the Maryland Senate will move any moment on this bill.
If their legislation is successful, the division would be transferred to a new, inexperienced commission comprised of political appointees.
Let me make this very clear — this attempt to move these statutory responsibilities from my office is nothing more than political retribution for my efforts to balance the playing field for Maryland’s craft brewing industry. This is yet another example of the punishment rendered by legislative leadership if one dares to express dissent.
The state’s independent Bureau of Revenue Estimates conducted a comprehensive review of the legislative proposal, taking into account every element of the bill. The bureau estimates this legislation would cost Maryland taxpayers $50 million over the next five years and will put at risk the $750 million in tobacco settlement money due to a potential reduction in aggressive enforcement and regulation of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Here’s the rub — the politicians in the General Assembly are sending you, the taxpayer, the bill to pay for their personal and political $50 million vendetta.
Again, this petty, $50 million vendetta targets the operation and the careers of this division — despite the fact that even the bill sponsors admit these professionals are doing an outstanding job.
What the legislators clearly don’t understand from the proposed bill is the critical connection that currently exists between our Revenue Administration Division (the team that collects tax payments) and the Field Enforcement Divison. By working together, these teams achieve successful results using tax compliance as a part of the field enforcement strategy.
Because of federal privacy guidelines, the Revenue Administration Division will no longer be permitted to share information outside of the Office of the Comptroller. This cooperation between revenue departments and field enforcement is the reason why the vast majority of state revenue departments across the country are entrusted with regulatory functions. Tax enforcement is an essential component of effective regulation.
Not only is this bill unnecessary and costly, it is reckless. Transferring the duties of enforcement officers in the Field Enforcement Division with nearly 800 cumulative years of experience to a newly created commission led by five inexperienced political appointees makes no logical sense.
Spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars on political vengeance when we have serious education, public safety, health and environmental needs in our state is reckless, perplexing and a gross exercise of abuse of power.
Legislative leadership’s repeated attempts to defeat me at the ballot box have been — to their disappointment — unsuccessful. So they are left with only one tool --- using the legislative process to retaliate against me.
This reckless, costly and unnecessary legislation is shameful and is void of any logic and merit.
Please help defeat Senate Bill 703/House Bill 1052 by contacting your legislators. You can find their contact information on mdelect.net.