Monday, March 28, 2011

Red Maryland Update # 11

Greg Kline shares a commentary on the Nannystate Nonsense going on in Annapolis.


Baltimorean said...

I certainly appreciate your coverage of the State legislature. Not nearly covered enough given how impactful the decisions in Annapolis can be on ordinary Marylanders. But, several notes on your recent podcast:

1) Novelty lighter bill was a Republican-sponsored bill, Sen. Glassman (R-35th Dist.). Floor leader in the Senate was Senator Getty (R-5th Dist.), another Maryland Republican. To call it a "bipartisan" bill is pretty disingenuous. See:$/2011rs/bills_noln/sb/tsb0112.pdf

2) The "snack tax" bill you reference has absolutely nothing to do with affecting eating choices. The bill is aimed at ending a government subsidy of the snack food industry in Maryland, and the purpose of the revenue is to fund targeted programs - a) nutrition education by non-profits in public schools, b) structured play programming offered by non-profits in public schools, and c) fresh fruit & vegetable market expansion in "food desert" communities (low-income communities without access to nearby supermarkets - helping Maryland's farmers). Maryland chose to subsidize the industry in 1996 when it accepted FritoLay and Pepsico's list of food items to exempt from the sales tax to woo a production plant in Maryland. That's bad public policy when our State is facing rapidly rising health care costs associated with obesity-related illnesses. Who pays for those costs? All of us, regardless of our health, because rising care costs get passed along to all private insurance payers through premium increases. Not to mention, the program has a 5 year sunset that's designed to ensure that the money is being used purposely (not by government agencies, but by non-profits via grant pass-throughs). If the non-profits fail to achieve measurable outcomes after 5 years, the funding stream goes away. Targeted, efficient taxation policy that doesn't grow government and relies on private actors for implementation is something I'd think a conservative base would applaud.

Were Maryland to end the snack food subsidy, we'd be joining other "nanny states," such as: South Carolina, Texas, North Carolina, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, Georgia, Wyoming, West Virginia, Virginia, and Mississippi. I'd hardly call those states bastions of liberal ideology. Suspicious of these claims? See:

Although inconvenient, I just want to make sure that facts are on the table instead of a heavy reliance on zingers and sound bites.

Keep up the coverage, regardless if I had to point out a few potential clarifications. Healthy debate about State policy is good for all residents.

Greg Kline said...


Nice try but your strawmen have no place here.

There are democratic co-sponsors for the novelty lighter bill which is a bad idea whoever is sponsoring it.

The snack tax has nothing to do with your proposed reasoning. Here is what the sponsor is saying is the reason for the bill.

“Childhood obesity is a growing problem, not just in Maryland but across the United States,” said Del. Jay Walker, a Prince George’s County Democrat who sponsored the bill to create the program.

I covered this in detail in a previous podcast. It is about raising taxes for revenue and controlling what we eat, in the name of the kids.

Again, nice try.

Baltimorean said...

Love the snarkiness! But you don't have to be angry. Two reasonable people are allowed to disagree.

Here's the Patch story's headline: "Proposed Maryland Snack Tax Could Help Overweight Kids" followed by this sub-headline: "Maryland lawmakers are proposing a tax on specific snack foods to help fund an anti-obesity program for kids."

Are you contesting that childhood obesity is a problem? I don't see Del. Walker saying he wants kids to stop eating snack foods. I do read him saying that he wants to fund non-profits by ending an arbitrary tax subsidy for the purpose of reducing the childhood obesity problem.

Just because you say something is wrong doesn't make it wrong.

You forgot to address the fact that nearly every Republican-conservative-leaning state in the country applies the sales tax to snack foods.

Not contesting that co-sponsors were bipartisan. But, as I imagine you're an Annapolis insider, there's definitely a difference between the bill's primary sponsor and co-sponsors. If not, would you agree that any bill that has a single co-sponsor from an opposite party qualifies the bill as a bi-partisan initiative?