Bill introduced that could limit Comptroller’s authority

I-270

A bill has been introduced into the General Assembly that could limit the authority of Maryland’s Comptroller. 

For more than 150 years, the office of the Maryland Comptroller has overseen tax collection and managed fiscal affairs for the state. But, State Senator Ben Kramer (D-District 19), has put forward legislation that could limit the Comptroller’s authority.

“It is not about partisan politics it is about doing the right thing,” Sen. Kramer said.

Over this past summer, a commission was created to take a look at the state’s alcohol laws and how the public welfare, health, and safety become a part of the conversation when it comes to distribution and selling. 

15 recommendations were made and have been put in one big bill which includes to put the responsibility of alcohol regulation and enforcement to an independent commission. 

“The residents of our state will not have to be worried. Here is a an elected official that is receiving and soliciting money and then putting in legislation that benefits the industry that he is in charged of with regulating and enforcing,” Sen. Kramer said.

Maryland’s 33rd Comptroller, Peter Franchot (D), said the bill would strip his rights away.

“It looks like a personality clash between me and the leadership and the General Assembly,” said Franchot. “It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with reform and the system and making it better.” 

The Comptroller Office’s has bee able to seize 2 million packs of contraband cigarettes, 1.4 million packages of other tobacco products and 85,000 containers of contraband beer.  

Franchot said Senator Kramer has introduced the bill because of his effort to reform the craft beer laws and helping small businesses in the state.  

“If we got out of the way of brewers, they would double, triple their business,” said Franchot. “We are talking about billions of dollars of economic activity, but, that is resented by Annapolis because Annapolis is very much resistant to reform.”

“By making this charge, we are taking politics out of our alcohol enforcement and regulation,” Sen. Kramer said. 

The bill is set to be heard in a commission in the upcoming weeks. Franchot said he will continue to execute the duties of his office in “an effective and responsible manner.” 

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