Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz says the county scored several victories in the recently-completed General Assembly session, including legislation to pave the way for a Guinness brewery to open in the county and a bill tackling prescription drug price gouging.
"We had a very successful year in Annapolis," Kamenetz said in an interview Wednesday.
State lawmakers passed a bill allowing production breweries to sell more beer in their on-site taprooms and serve some beer that's produced off-site. Those changes were needed to allow international liquor company to open its proposed Guinness brewery and tourist attraction in Relay in Baltimore County.
Kamenetz said the Guinness brewery will be a "showpiece" in Baltimore County and complement the county's other production breweries: Heavy Seas in Halethorpe, Key in Dundalk and DuClaw in Rosedale.
He also supported two successful bills related to reports last year that the county had a high rate of rape cases labeled as "unfounded." One measure clarifies the legal definition of rape in hopes of making it easier to prosecute rapists and setting standards for how long police should keep rape kids in storage.
"We think this was a groundbreaking, seminal change for the good," Kamenetz said.
He also supported a bill giving the attorney general the ability to sue drug companies for hiking the prices of generic drugs. Because the county is an employer that provides insurance for thousands of workers, it could save money by combating high drug prices.
"The county could be getting gouged," he said.
Kamenetz also threw his support behind issues that didn't have a direct connection to the county, such as preventing the natural gas drilling method known as "fracking" and preserving a new rule that limits the use of cash bail for defendants awaiting trial. Some county lawmakers expressed frustration the county executive wasn't as engaged on county issues.
Kamenetz visited Annapolis regularly during the 90-day session, both in his role as county executive and as president of the Maryland Association of Counties.
At one point, he testified as county executive taking an opposite position from MACO, on a bill regarding a scoring system for transportation projects. Kamenetz supported the state's law passed last year that requires a ranking of transportation projects that get state funding, while MACO — and Gov. Larry Hogan — opposed the scoring system.
Ultimately lawmakers passed a bill delaying the implementation of the scoring system.