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Published on June 25th, 2012 | by Cynthia Prairie

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State Roundup, June 25, 2012

GAMBLING IMPASSE: Whether Maryland residents will vote on table games this year is still up in the air, after a work group organized by Gov. Martin O’Malley failed to come to a consensus this week, writes Jennifer Shutt in the Salisbury Daily Times.

Gov. O’Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch failed to reach an agreement when they met Friday to discuss a possible General Assembly special session for approving a sixth casino and legalizing Las Vegas-style table games, Earl Kelly reports in the Capital-Gazette. The two talked privately Friday night about Maryland’s gambling impasse but reported no significant progress, blogs John Wagner in the Post.

Given the amount of money that has been flowing in to the state’s two slots parlors since they opened, and with new revenues coming in with the June opening of Maryland Live! Casino in Anne Arundel County, writes the editorial board for the Carroll County Times, it is difficult to fathom why a work group looking in to gambling expansion in the state failed to come to any consensus.

Gambling, particularly slots, is a toxic way for a state to raise money. It amounts to a tax on the poor and the middle class. It invites an array of social problems, including gambling addiction. And it is politically venomous. Nonetheless, opines the editorial board for the Washington Post, Maryland has moved past that debate. The questions now are how much gambling, and how many casinos, to allow. Here, too, there are reasons to proceed slowly.

A CASINO FREE-FOR-ALL: “What a mess.” So begins a radio ad that began airing Friday that urges Maryland lawmakers to pick up the pieces of this week’s collapse of a work group plan that would allow a casino in Prince George’s County, writes Ben Giles for the Washington Examiner. The spot is paid for by a coalition of labor and other business interests, led by the Washington DC Building Trades Council, a major booster of a proposed casino at National Harbor, which could generate jobs for its members, John Wagner blogs in the Post.

Prince George’s County Exec Rushern Baker comes out swinging at Speaker Busch, saying he lied to him, and Arundel casino developer David Cordish punches back over a planned Prince George’s casino, blogs Miranda Spivack in the Post.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot thinks the General Assembly needs to dump its obsession with gambling and focus more on turning around the state’s economy, Peter Heck and Daniel Divilio write in the Easton Star Democrat. “They need to deal with the economy like adults.”

O’Malley and Speaker Busch are expected to meet in the next few days with Senate President Mike Miller to discuss the possibility of a special session on gambling, despite the failure of a commission of senators, delegates and state officials to reach a consensus.

The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette minces no words writing that when a hastily created state work group couldn’t reach a consensus on extending gambling in Maryland, the governor wasted no time assigning blame. It had nothing to do with Gov. Martin O’Malley’s own pathetic lack of leadership on this issue or with a state Senate president fixated on getting a sixth casino for Prince George’s County, part of which he represents. No, it was all the fault of House Speaker Michael Busch. Baloney, they say.

DREAM ACT FIGHT: Maryland voters will decide this November whether to allow in-state tuition rates for some illegal immigrants, and activists on both sides of the issue are ramping up efforts to get their message out to the public, writes David Hill in the Washington Times.

REMAPPING REFERENDUM: With a week to go before the deadline to submit signatures, opponents of the state’s new boundaries for its eight congressional districts, have less than half the number of valid signatures they need to get a referendum before voters this November to force the Maryland General Assembly to draw new boundaries, reports Robert Lang of WBAL-AM.

And the editorial board for the Washington Examiner writes that it hopes Marylanders will have a chance to vote on the redistricting, which it dubbed “Marymander,” to describe the grotesquely misshapen districts.

VOTER ROLL IRREGULARITIES: A Maryland organization says it has found hundreds of dead people listed on voter registration rolls in Baltimore and Prince George’s counties, as well as residents who have registered in multiple places and some who have addresses that turn out to be vacant lots, Alison Knezevich writes in the Sun.

BAY DEAD ZONE SMALLER: Timothy Wheeler of the Sun is reporting that state officials are saying that – so far this year – the “dead zone” that forms every spring in the Chesapeake Bay is smaller than average.

WORK SHARE INSURANCE: Maryland could save almost $36 million per year in unemployment insurance costs by federally financing its work-sharing program, Kevin James Shay reports in the Gazette.

ABORTION CLINIC RULES: Maryland’s health department is adopting new regulations requiring licenses for surgical abortion clinics starting in July, according to a report at WBFF-TV. Regulations announced Friday apply to about 20 clinics.

O’MALLEY’S ANNUS HORRIBILIS: It’s been a tough year so far for Maryland’s Democratic governor, despite the benefit of strong Democratic majorities in the General Assembly, writes Brian Witte of the AP in the Salisbury Daily Times.

SENATE CHAMBER RESTORATION: Archivists, historians and architects charged with restoring the Old Senate Chamber in the State House to the way it was on that momentous day in December 1783 when George Washington resigned his commission as commander of the Continental Army rather rather than declaring a dictatorship are seeking old photographs, picture postcards, drawings, documents (including diary entries) or artifacts that depict or describe the room’s original architecture and materials, writes Earl Kelly of the Capital-Gazette.

GANSLER HEADS AG GROUP: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler began his year as president of the National Association of Attorneys General last Thursday with a pledge to help ensure online privacy, the AP reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.

BARTLETT REPORTS: John Fritze of the Sun reports about U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s difficulty filing full and accurate campaign finance reports. The Western Maryland Republican, who faces a re-election battle this fall has repeatedly filed incomplete and inaccurate campaign finance reports, and was fined $5,000 this year by the Federal Election Commission

O’MALLEY VS CUOMO: In the would-be race for the White House that includes Gov. O’Malley, David Moon at Maryland Juice compiles media comparisons of O’Malley and his maybe rival for the Democratic nomination, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

APPEALS COURT TO HEAR JONES CASE: The Maryland Court of Appeals will hear former Anne Arundel County Councilman Daryl Jones’ case against Anne Arundel County, reports Allison Bourg of the Capital-Gazette.

Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports that Jones’ lawyer said that the court’s decision to hear the case speaks to the importance of the issues involved. It “means they believe the case is an important one. I think that the ouster of an elected official is a very important issue,” the attorney said.

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