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Gansler proposes procurement preference for Maryland-made goods

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler at an appearance in Rockville in March. (Susan Biddle/The Washington Post.)

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), who is gearing up to announce his bid for governor in September, on Friday proposed the creation of a new preference in the state procurement process for Maryland-made goods and services.

The initiative was part of a package of ideas put forward by Gansler to bolster the state’s manufacturing sector during an appearance at a United Auto Workers hall in Hagerstown. It was the second stop on a statewide tour in advance of announcing his candidacy.

Gansler, who faces a competitive field for the Democratic nomination next year, offered limited details on how a “Buy Maryland” preference would work, but said it would be “a significant factor” in the procurement decisions made by state agencies.

“If it’s of the same quality and competitively priced, there ought to be a preference,” he told reporters following a lunch meeting with about two dozen people that featured buffet offerings of fried chicken, lasagna, green beans and mashed potatoes.

Gansler was critical of Maryland’s tax burden and regulatory environment for businesses, and he said that the state ranks 43rd in manufacturing, behind all other states in the mid-Atlantic region.

“Manufacturing is not just an important part of our past, it should be an important part of our future,” he said.

Other ideas offered by Gansler included a public-service campaign promoting Maryland-made products and summer workshops for high school and college students to learn skills needed to succeed in high-tech manufacturing.

He also proposed additional tax credits and the creation of “industrial business zones” that could not be used for commercial or residential developments.

Gansler’s chief Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, announced his candidacy in May and has been more visible on the campaign trail in recent weeks. Another Democratic candidate, Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), is expected to formally join the race this summer.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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