NEWS RELEASE: Comptroller Franchot Thanks Legislature for Support
Comptroller Franchot Thanks Legislature for Support
-Progress for effective tobacco and law enforcement, fairness for all Maryland
families and promoting small businesses highlight successful session-
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (April 9, 2013) – Citing the passage of his agency’s top legislative priority – legislation that stiffens the penalties for cigarette smuggling – Comptroller Peter Franchot today thanked the Maryland General Assembly for their support during the 2013 legislative session. He also expressed particular appreciation for the General Assembly’s commitment to provide his agency with the resources and budget necessary to continue as a national leader in efficiency and effectiveness.
As the state’s chief tobacco regulator, Comptroller Franchot pushed for legislation to address contraband cigarette smuggling in Maryland which has increased significantly in recent years. The Comptroller’s departmental bill, Senate Bill 69, increases the penalties for cigarette smuggling from $50 to $150 per pack for a first offense and makes the penalties mandatory. A previous version of the bill passed the House of Delegates in 2012.
“Passage of this legislation is critical to enable my agency to effectively combat the growing epidemic of cigarette smuggling, saving the state millions in lost revenue, and far more importantly, keeping contraband off our streets and out of the reach of kids,” Franchot remarked.
He added, “I appreciate the leadership of Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Ed Kasemeyer and Economic Matters Chairman Dereck Davis and would especially like to thank my Director of Field Enforcement, Jeff Kelly, for his stewardship of this important public health initiative.”
Noting his agency’s discretionary budget request that was essentially flat for the second consecutive year, Comptroller Franchot thanked the General Assembly for allowing his team to continue serving the taxpayers of Maryland with the highest level of customer service while equipping the agency with the tools it needs to appropriately, but aggressively enforce the law.
“As Marylanders continue to face extraordinary fiscal and economic challenges, we continue to reward those taxpayers who are dutifully paying their taxes on time and identify and collect from those who are not. The General Assembly continues to be a productive partner in our efforts to apply the rules fairly, predictably and effectively,” said Comptroller Franchot.
The Comptroller also pointed to his office’s collaboration with the General Assembly on the passage of House Bill 380 to remove distinctions between married couples with regard to joint tax filing, following the passage of same-sex marriage at the polls this fall.
“By decoupling from the federal government’s discriminatory treatment of same-sex married couples, Maryland will follow the will of our people in recognizing that all citizens have a right to be treated equally under the law,” Franchot noted.
Comptroller Franchot has been an outspoken advocate for restoring the academic calendar to its traditional start after Labor Day. This session, he lent strong support to Senate Bill 963. The bill, sponsored by Senator James N. Matthias, Jr., is a significant legislative victory for Maryland families, small businesses and the tourism industry by creating a task force to study a statewide post-Labor Day start date to the school year.
As Maryland’s chief alcohol regulator, Comptroller Franchot commended Alcohol Subcommittee Chairman Charles Barkley and the entire General Assembly for successful passage of House Bills 230 and 231, which improve consumer choice and support small business development by promoting Maryland’s burgeoning micro-breweries.
The Comptroller was also appreciative of the General Assembly’s overwhelming passage of the Anne Arundel County warrant intercept program – developed by Sheriff Ron Bateman – which has already proven to be a highly cost-effective way to support local law enforcement.
While the 2013 legislative session was a highly successful 90 days for the priorities of the Comptroller and his agency, he expressed regret that the General Assembly failed to pass legislation that would require a school resource officer (SRO) in all Maryland public schools.
Franchot remarked, “For the safety of our children and the peace of mind of our parents, I’m deeply disappointed that House Bill 165 and Senate Bill 807 did not pass this year. I remain hopeful that the Governor and General Assembly will reconsider the legislation in 2014 as a meaningful, proven means of protecting our educators and students from acts of violence, while allowing these officers to serve as positive role models for our kids.”