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Baltimore liquor board bill advances in House

A bill to change how Baltimore's liquor board members are appointed continued its rapid progress through the General Assembly Tuesday.

Without debate, the House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to the bill, which requires Gov. Larry Hogan to appoint new members to the liquor board. If he doesn't do so by the end of the General Assembly session on April 11, the appointment power would shift to Baltimore's mayor and City Council.

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The bill, introduced March 7, is scheduled for a final vote in the House on Wednesday. It has already cleared the state Senate.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore City Democrat, sponsored the bill after hearing an outcry of opposition to Hogan's appointees on the liquor board: Benjamin Neil, Douglas Trotter and Elizabeth Hafey.

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Baltimore residents and the Community Law Center raised concerns that the liquor board members were making decisions that favored bars and restaurants over neighborhood restaurants since the governor appointed them last summer.

The Senate's Executive Nominations Committee voted Monday not to confirm the liquor board members' appointments. Hogan has said he will not nominate new liquor board members.

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