In slap at Franchot, Maryland House passes bill to examine role of comptroller in regulation of alcohol

Dealing a rebuke to Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, the House of Delegates approved legislation Monday to set up a task force to study whether his agency should continue to be Maryland’s chief regulator of alcoholic beverages.

The legislation, which passed by a vote of 128-10, now goes to the Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Benjamin F. Kramer, comes in response to Franchot’s public campaign for broad changes to the state’s laws governing craft breweries — an effort some legislators saw as an intrusion into their policy-making role. Lawmakers of both parties have criticized Franchot’s advocacy for the brewers as incompatible with his role as regulator. The same House committee that approved the task force bill voted down the comptroller’s proposed “Reform on Tap” legislation last week.

As part of his effort to free brewers of legal restrictions on their production and sales, Franchot put together a task force last year to study Maryland’s beer laws without consulting with General Assembly leaders. Kramer, a Montgomery County Democrat, criticized Franchot for failing to name any public health advocates to the panel.

A spokesman for Franchot described the task force bill as a “joke.”

mdresser@baltsun.com

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