Cumberland Times-News

February 6, 2013

To curb Wild West grab, bill aims to regulate ‘land men’

Another wants to dub raven as second state bird

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Legislation has been filed that would regulate “land men” seeking to obtain leases for gas and other mineral rights from property owners in Maryland.

Other recent legislative proposals include alcohol legislation aimed at Garrett and Allegany counties. And, what a surprise after the Super Bowl, a bill to make the raven the second state bird of Maryland, along with the oriole.

Following up on Marcellus Shale advisory committee recommendations, Sen. George Edwards has filed a bill to require registration and licensing of so-called “land men.”

Senate Bill 766 would prohibit a person from “operating as an oil or gas land professional in the state unless the person registers with and obtains a registration certificate from the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation,” according to the language of the bill. The land professional would be required to provide proof of certification before negotiating with a landowner.

There’s been concern over a Wild West-style grab for mineral rights, including gas rights, by some unscrupulous land men in Western Maryland while companies are hoping to obtain rights to drill for natural gas in Marcellus Shale, should the state government eventually allow the practice.

Two other bills propose changes to liquor laws in Garrett and Allegany counties: the bill for Allegany County focuses on Rocky Gap and the one in Garrett County would create a special license for luxury restaurants.

The local delegation has supported allowing extended hours for alcohol service at Rocky Gap at the request of its owners and Allegany County commissioners.

House Bill 816 would extend the hours for liquor service at Rocky Gap casino.

“In order to be competitive with gaming operations in neighboring states, and to provide the facility at Rocky Gap with the flexibility to serve patrons during operational hours within the hotel, restaurant or an adjacent gaming facility, we are requesting that the state consider the creation of a new beverage license specifically for gaming facilities,” commissioners wrote in a formal request to the delegation.  

County Attorney Bill Rudd has said he hoped a law could be crafted allowing the casino and restaurants within the gaming facility to be open Monday through Saturday until 4 a.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Monday.

Senate Bill 767 would create more flexible liquor licenses for deluxe restaurants and allow beer festivals under certain circumstances.

The delegation introduced House Bill 738, which would put the screws to juveniles who make false statements about a destructive device or toxic materials. It would require that in such cases, juveniles be prosecuted as adults. The bill is designed to help authorities cope with a rash of bomb threats at area schools.

And House Bill 756 would name the raven as a co-state bird, along with the oriole. Delegate Nathaniel T. Oaks of Baltimore City is the lead sponsor. This bill has been introduced in previous sessions, but might get a boost after the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl victory on Sunday.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.