August 8, 2012

State Roundup, August 8, 2012

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GAMING BILL REVEALED: At 10 p.m. Tuesday, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s office publicly released the draft of the gambling bill to be taken up at Thursday’s special session.

Annie Linskey and Michael Dresser report for the Sun that the legislation would expand gambling in Maryland, limit the influence of gambling interests in state politics by banning contributions and extend tax breaks to casino operators who would face increased competition if the plan is approved.

24-HOUR SLOTS: Gov. O’Malley’s bill attempts to compensate existing casino owners for the new competition in Prince George’s by bumping up their share of revenue and by turning Maryland’s facilities into 24-hour operations, reports the Post’s John Wagner. Earlier yesterday, Wagner wrote that the bill is likely to include a new “marketing allowance” for casino operators, according to people familiar with the still-unreleased plan.

BIDDING FOR PG SITE: The legislation will allow National Harbor and Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County to bid to build the state’s sixth casino, reports Earl Kelly for the Capital-Gazette. And a Prince George’s casino cannot open before July 1, 2016, or 30 months after the planned Baltimore City casino opens, whichever comes first.

ROSECROFT COULD DROP RACING: Penn National Gaming said yesterday that it has committed to another two years of live racing at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County — if a casino isn’t approved at nearby National Harbor, blogs John Wagner in the Post.

Steve Kilar of the Sun also writes about Penn National’s conditional extension of racing.

O’MALLEY TO APPEAR: The Sun is reporting that O’Malley will appear before the Senate Democratic caucus tomorrow morning, just before it reports to the special session the governor called to consider expanded gambling.

GOP URGED TO AS WELL: The editorial board of the Sun is urging Republican lawmakers to not boycott the special session, as some have suggested, because it is important for Marylanders to hear their opinions on the gambling issues.

FALSE CLAIM FOR MD CONSTRUCTION JOBS: In the op-ed section of the Sun, Pless Jones, owner of P&J Contracting Co. and president of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, writes that promised construction jobs for the National Harbor casino won’t go to Maryland workers. Under an agreement between the casino developer and trades unions, almost 90% of Maryland’s 146,215 construction workers would not be eligible for the jobs to build this new resort casino because they don’t belong to a union.

GAMBLING ADDICTION: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM discusses one of the social costs of gambling – addiction — in preparation for tomorrow’s special session, joined by Dr. Valerie Lorenz, a clinical psychologist who has studied compulsive gambling since 1973, and Christine Reilly, of the National Center for Responsible Gaming.

SLOTS GIVE-BACK: For the Capital-Gazette, Tim Prudente and Earl Kelly follow up of recent reports that the Maryland Live! casino is hauling in $1 million a day while the Hollywood Casino wants to give back 400 to 500 slot machines because its take is dropping.

But, Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record reports that the state lottery director says that Hollywood Casino’s request to shed slot machines at its Cecil County facility won’t be addressed until after the General Assembly’s special session.

Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that what Hollywood Casino is experiencing could just be a market correction, according to the lottery director.

ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION: Maryland residents can now register online to vote using a new Web-based system. The Maryland State Board of Elections began promoting its new online-registration system with tweets from Gov. O’Malley yesterday, writes Elizabeth Sallie of the Washington Times.

KKT BACKS SAME SEX MARRIAGE: The group leading Maryland’s same-sex marriage campaign is highlighting Catholic supporters, including former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a member of one of the most prominent Catholic families in American politics who is scheduled to appear at a news conference this morning alongside parents of gay children, blogs John Wagner in the Post.

Townsend cited a speech made by her uncle, President John F. Kennedy, to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association prior to the presidential election in 1960, where he explained that his Catholic faith would inform his decisions but that he wouldn’t be beholden to Rome, reports Adam Bednar of Patch.com.

FRACKING IN S. MARYLAND: A new government assessment has identified several areas throughout Southern Maryland that have the potential for hydraulic fracturing to mine natural gas, Jesse Yeatman reports for SoMDNews.com

PEPCO STILL SEEKS RATE HIKE: Victor Zapana of the Post reports that, on the heels of a small rate increase by Maryland regulators, Pepco announced yesterday that it plans to file another rate request in the fall.

ICE CREAM TRAIL: Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance and Deputy Secretary Mary Ellen Setting made a stop at a Rising Sun-area creamery yesterday afternoon to help promote its participation in the state’s first Ice Cream Trail, Jane Bellmyer of the Cecil Whig writes.

4th MOST DEMOCRATS: Maryland is the fourth most Democratic state in the nation, according to Gallup, writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com.

FREDERICK COUNTY CHARTER: A ceremonial delivery of the proposed Frederick County Charter to the Board of County Commissioners last night was the final step before the 25-page document gets put on the November ballot.

CIVIL WAR LAND: Ed Waters of the Frederick News-Post reports that seven land tracts around Civil War battlefields in Maryland will be acquired by the Civil War Trust thanks to $980,000 from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

BA CO BIAS SUIT PAYOUT: Baltimore County will pay a total of $475,000 to 10 current, former and prospective employees to settle federal claims it has engaged in a “pattern or practice” of discriminating against police officers, fire fighters and paramedics with disabilities by requiring medical tests that were not job-related, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record.