If Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot had his way, Maryland would be the easiest state for new breweries.
The comptroller visited Mount Airy on Thursday and spoke with members of the Town Council, residents and business owners about fraud, the state's economy and his plans for reforming Maryland alcohol laws.
"You think this is a small issue. I'm telling you it's an electric issue with beer lovers across the state," Franchot said.
Franchot said he was tired of breweries leaving to go to Virginia because the Maryland regulations made it too difficult on the business. Instead, he wants breweries from the other states to come to Maryland, he said.
"So we're going to examine all the laws holding our craft breweries back," Franchot said.
The brewery business is slowly growing in Maryland and, with the right regulations, it could be a $1 billion industry, he said.
He joked that people shouldn't vote for him if they wanted law from the Prohibition age.
Franchot also touched on the state's economy, noting that the state is wealthy. However, whether the economy is booming with people borrowing and lending or if it is more lethargic is dependent on the federal government.
His staff told him that the country could see a boom with President Donald Trump's plan for the economy or the country could be in trade war with China, he said.
"We're in a kind of limbo right now in terms of the economy," he said.
And as the state's tax collector, Franchot spoke about tax fraud, saying it was a problem that happened everywhere. While it happens, he said his staff has been able to block approximately 76,000 fraudulent tax return refund requests.
It's a problem that also requires legislation, he said, adding that while they were able to block many of the fraudulent requests, there is an issue of having the power to prosecute or go after the people who are submitting the fraudulent requests.
Franchot told Mount Airy residents that this did not mean going after individual tax payers, but rather the tax preparers or the people submitting hundreds of fraudulent refund requests knowing that they are committing fraud.