Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) told House and Senate lawmakers this week that he hopes a bill to remove his office’s regulatory authority over tobacco and alcohol can be undone this coming General Assembly session.
“This situation with this enforcement division, which is being torn apart as we speak, is the grossest mismanagement of public funds I have ever seen in my 33 years [in Annapolis],” Franchot told the Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds.
Last legislative session, the General Assembly passed a bill that transfers the alcohol and tobacco regulatory powers from the comptroller’s office to a new five-member Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, to be appointed by the governor.
Franchot at the time derided the legislation as petty political retribution for his early advocacy of the craft beer industry. Supporters of the bill said it would remove an elected official from oversight of an industry from which he receives campaign donations; Maryland is one of only a few states that have an elected official overseeing the alcoholic beverage industry in the same way.
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) vetoed the measure, which he called wasteful, but the General Assembly voted to override the governor and pass the bill into law, effective July 1, 2020.