Monday, April 03, 2006

MD General Assembly Democrats: We’re above the law
Maryland bid to halt utility plan called illegal

Regulatory lawyers say the Maryland General Assembly's plan to halt a multibillion-dollar utility merger is illegal, even if the lawmakers' goal of slowing the increase in electric bills is to help consumers.

"It smacks of 'ex post facto' regulation," said Richard A. Booth, a University of Maryland School of Law professor who specializes in merger law and other regulatory issues.

The Latin term describes laws that are applied retroactively and penalize action that was legal when originally taken, in this case adding restrictions to a business transaction initiated under existing rules.

The legislature also might be breaking the law by usurping authority of the Maryland Public Service Commission, an independent agency that regulates utilities, said William A. Mogel, chairman of the utility practice at Saul Ewing's D.C. law offices.
"It is probably a violation of law," he said. "The legislature is not supposed to interfere in the agency."

However, the Maryland Attorney General's Office has issued opinions vouching for the legality of the legislature's actions…. [Ed. - J. Joseph Curran, Jr.’s opinions bolster the lawless power grab by General Assembly Democrats, there’s a surprise]

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