It Slowly Dawns on the WashPost That Maryland Looks Like a 'Nanny State'

April 14th, 2014 8:49 AM

At the end of Maryland’s legislative session in Annapolis, The Washington Post and reporter Fredrick Kunkle slowly realized outnumbered Republicans are outraged with “a slew of what they call well-intentioned but annoying attempts to micromanage people’s lives with bans, prohibitions and regulations, these critics say the state’s latest attempt to boldly embrace the future felt more like the smothering clasp of Mary Poppins.”

“Where’s this going? Are we going to ban dark chocolate bars now?” wondered Jeff Zellmer, a lobbyist with the Maryland Retailers Association who testified against a bill that would have criminalized the sale of energy drinks to minors. “Criminalizing energy drinks! And down in Judiciary they’re [decriminalizing] pot ! What the hell is going on? Next you’re going to have to check IDs at Starbucks.”


It was a bit funny that the Post wanted to define the term “nanny state,” and went to...the Urban Dictionary?

The Urban Dictionary defines “nanny state” as a place where intrusive government policies betray an assumption that people in power know best how to protect others from the obvious consequences of their own stupid behavior.

House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga offered the Post a list of the “proposed bills that, for her, define the chivying excesses of liberal government”:

– A proposal to ban the Vaportini, a candle-powered device that transforms alcohol into a gas so its user can inhale a martini instead of imbibing it (passed);

– A bill to prohibit the retail sale of Everclear and other brands of highly concentrated grain alcohol (passed);

-- Legislation forbidding fast-food restaurants and other such outlets from serving any beverage except bottled water or low-fat milk with packaged meals such as McDonald’s Happy Meal (died in committee);

– A proposed ban on the sale of highly caffeinated energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Monster Energy, to minors (died in committee);

-- A proposal to ban electronic cigarettes (died in committee);

– And bills to extend smoking bans to parks, public playgrounds, vehicles with a child present — and even private dwellings by allowing condominium associations to impose bans — (all of those died in committee).

Another bill, Szeliga said, seemed almost literally a nanny bill: HB1276 — which passed — generally requires day-care centers to serve only low-fat or skim milk and promote limits on how much television children can watch.

She was especially incensed by an unsuccessful proposal to provide free breakfast and lunch for all students — regardless of their families’ income — in public schools with high levels of poverty.

“I’m the big bad wolf because, you know what, I don’t want you feeding my kids,” Szeliga said. “Fifty years ago, if you had had this conversation, parents would have been aghast. But what are we doing? We are warming up kids from age 5 to accept government handouts.”

Kunkle balanced out the story with liberal Democrats saying the trend is very wholesome and wonderful

But one person’s nanny state is another’s progressive government.

Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) said that many a regulation that comes in for ridicule when first proposed is later accepted as a forward-thinking and common-sense policy. Mandating the installation and use of seat belts, for example. Or banning smoking in restaurants and other public places because of secondhand smoke. In those cases, progressives embraced cutting-edge science and imposed sensible rules that most people now embrace, he said.