Staples Asks Supreme Court to Weigh In on Maryland Tax Dispute

Office-supply retailer Staples Inc. last week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review its long-standing legal battle with Maryland over the state’s claim that the retail giant owes it $14 million in back taxes. Staples Inc., based in Massachusetts, argues that Maryland's taxation of franchise fees paid by the retailer's Maryland stores violates the Constitution's Due Process and Interstate Commerce clauses. The dispute centers around whether or not franchise fee payments received from Staples' Maryland…

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Montgomery to Take Legal Action Against E-Cig Manufacturers and Distributors

Montgomery County officials plan to investigate and sue industry giant Juul as well as other manufacturers and distributors of electronic cigarettes, aka vapes. Juul is the target of several civil lawsuits around the country that call out the company for marketing vapes to teens as well as advertising false or misleading health claims. From The Bethesda Beat: On Tuesday, the County Council is scheduled to approve the appointment of a special counsel to investigate and…

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Federal Judge Allows Maryland’s MTBE Lawsuit Against Gasoline Companies to Move Forward

A Daily Record article (2019-10-08) reported that a federal District Court judge is allowing a Maryland lawsuit to proceed against various petroleum-related companies for environmental contamination from a gasoline additive. The article stated that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced the lawsuit against more than 50 petroleum related companies in December, 2017. The suit alleged significant water contamination from the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), which originated from leaking underground service station tanks. (MTBE is…

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Circuit Court Holds Rogue Baltimore City Officers Acted Within “Scope of Employment”

A Baltimore Sun article (2019-10-04) reported that the Circuit Court has held Baltimore City liable for a $32,000 judgment against three former Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) police officers after they were found to have planted a gun on a person they arrested. The case highlighted the challenge of determining when a police officer is acting within the scope of their employment, thereby making the local government liable for their actions. If upheld on appeal, the case…

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Allegany Considers Ban on Speed Cameras

The Allegany County Board of County Commissioners is considering a local bill to prohibit the use of speed cameras on county-maintained roads. While several states and localities have banned traffic cameras, Allegany would be the first county in Maryland to outlaw the establishment of a local automated speed enforcement (ASE) program. While Allegany County does not currently operate an ASE program, Code Home Rule Bill 2-19, introduced by Commission President Jake Shade, would amend the county…

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NACo Webinar TOMORROW: The Upcoming SCOTUS Term

Register now for a webinar on the upcoming Supreme Court docket - learn about cases affecting state and local governments in the upcoming term. Online webinar: 1pm ET, Tuesday September 24 It is rare for the Supreme Court’s docket to be so interesting before the term has even started! Join Michael Dreeben, former Deputy Solicitor General and currently visiting lecturer at Georgetown Law; Joe Palmore, Morrison Foerster, who will argue a case this term on…

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MACo Announces 2020 Legislative Initiatives

MACo to prioritize education funding, school construction, health crises, and implied preemption in the 2020 session.  MACo’s Legislative Committee voted at their September 18, 2019 meeting to adopt the Association’s four priorities for the 2020 Session. These issues cover a broad range of important county concerns that MACo will proactively advocate for in front of the General Assembly. School Funding – Funding Fairness, County Role The 2020 Session will feature a generational debate about school…

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LGIT Briefing: Legislative Prayer, the First Amendment, and the Courts

The Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT), who covers many county governments in Maryland, offers legal guidance and perspective on first amendment issues, including prayers at meetings of public bodies. The LGIT Leader is an occasional series of bulletins, designed for LGIT's local government members, to serve their legal and risk management interests. The September 2019 edition focuses on invocations, prayers and other religious speech or presentations made during public meetings. At what point do they…

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