August 9, 2012

State Roundup, August 9, 2012

Print More

IT’S MILLER’S PARTY: There seems to be only one person behind the special session and keeping the gambling issue alive, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. And it isn’t Gov. Martin O’Malley. “If the Senate president wasn’t pushing this, we wouldn’t be meeting,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s Democrat and longtime gambling opponent.

NO EMERGENCY: Some taxpayers, lawmakers and columnist Blair Lee are questioning whether a proposal to add a new casino in Maryland is extraordinary enough to call the special session, Jeff Abel of WBFF reports.

EASY SENATE PASSAGE? Brian Witte of the AP reports in the Salisbury Daily Times that the gambling measure is expected to cruise through the Senate, where similar legislation passed during the regular session. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee planned to hold a hearing on the bill this afternoon.

DISCLOSE GAMING CONTRIBUTIONS: With the General Assembly set to reconvene today for a special session on gambling, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is calling on the governor and lawmakers to voluntarily disclose recent campaign contributions from national gaming companies, blogs John Wagner of the Post.

Franchot said that there is “mounting public suspicion” that an upcoming special session is catered toward special interest money and not about fixing the state’s economy, Ryan Sharrow reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.

LEGISLATION ‘UNFAIR’: Despite some concessions, the Cordish Cos., owner of the MarylandLive! casino, calls the new gambling legislation “patently unfair,” blogs the Post’s John Wagner. Penn National Gaming also has its concerns.

Cordish has been opposed to any expansion, though a list of demands from his camp was leaked to the media. Almost none of those provisions were included in the legislation, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun.

PRINCE GEORGE’S CASINO QUESTIONED: While a majority of the Lower Shore’s delegates and senators are in favor of legalizing table games and allowing Ocean Downs to stay open 24 hours a day, they are concerned about the fairness of a sixth casino in Prince George’s County and changing the tax structure for gambling facilities, writes Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times.

HO CO DELEGATES UNDECIDED: Although the main targets of the talks have been lawmakers from larger delegations, such as Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s county, Howard County’s delegates have not been exempt from the pressure, Lindsey McPherson writes for the Howard County Times.

YES WE ARE: Gov. O’Malley told reporters yesterday, “For crying out loud, aren’t we all tired of this by now?” John Wagner of the Post reports that the governor was speaking about the gambling issue.

DUELING STUDIES, DUELING CASINOS: It’s a case of the dueling casino-revenue studies, with each coming up with a different conclusion as state lawmakers consider expanding to a sixth casino and adding table games, opines Pat Furgurson of the Capital-Gazette. One thing is certain, Hollywood Casino wants to give back slots as revenue wanes following the opening of MarylandLive!

And the editorial board for the Sun writes that if the Hollywood Casino in Perryville is getting hammered by competition from Maryland Live!, what would happen if we expand gambling even more?

DUELING ADS: Advertisements opposing an expansion of gambling in Maryland are flooding the airwaves, as casino groups and labor organizations fight for their stake in the state’s gambling industry, reports Ben Giles in the Washington Examiner.

ROSECROFT’S FUTURE: Lindsey Robbins of the Gazette follows up on earlier stories that state Rosecroft Raceway’s owner has promised two more years of live harness racing — but only if the state denies a casino license to any other bidder in the county.

THE SESSION: State Sen. Ed Reilly and Dels. Jolene Ivey, Ron George and Shawn Tarrant join Marc Steiner on WEAA-FM to talk about the special session.

PIT BULL LEGISLATION: A rally is scheduled at noon today at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis to call on the Maryland General Assembly to act during the second legislative special session to remedy the Tracey v. Solesky ruling on pit bulls, according to the Cecil Whig.

The attorney for the little boy that prompted the recent Maryland Court of Appeals ruling on pitbulls writes in an op-ed for the Sun that, as the General Assembly gets ready to debate legislation governing all dogs, he maintains his belief that victims’ rights should be paramount. This debate should never have been about the dogs.

And the Maryland chapter of the Human Society, also writing an op-ed in the Sun, says that any law should not be about a specific breed but about liability.

GRIDLOCK LEGISLATION: Funding needed for road improvements and mass transit in Maryland will be part of the discussion in the General Assembly’s special session, reports Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal

TACTICAL POLICE RAIDS: Although deaths mark a small percentage of the more than 1,600 tactical deployments conducted each year in Maryland, critics say that such raids have become too common and that the units should receive greater public scrutiny, reports Jessica Anderson for the Sun. One highly publicized incident prompted state legislators to require police departments to submit data every six months on tactical deployments, starting in 2010.

TRANSMISSION LINES: The state’s power grid operator does not need a $3.3 billion pair of transmission line projects built through Maryland because, reports Scott Dance in the Sun, the weak economy has slowed demand for electricity, the staff of operator PJM Interconnection has concluded.

DROUGHT A DISASTER: O’Malley has requested federal disaster relief for 13 counties in the state that have experienced “widespread crop losses” this year due to drought and extreme heat, writes Kevin Rector in the Sun.

INFANT MORTALITY: Maryland maintained a record low infant mortality rate for the second year in a row, statistics cheered by state leaders, though the rate continued to outpace the national average, Meredith Cohn reports in the Sun.

WINNING WITH FEWER FUNDS? Judging by the fund-raising, one might think Republican Nancy Jacobs has no chance to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a five-term Democrat. He raised three times as much cash last quarter. But a closer look at his list of financial supporters shows it’s missing one thing, though: people who can actually vote for him, reports Luke Rosiak in the Washington Times.

FREDERICK GROWTH: With some new faces on the Frederick County Planning Commission, there was a new result with yesterday’s vote to recommend approving the revamped comprehensive land-use plan and zoning map. This could lead to the development of some 9,000 acres, Pete McCarthy writes for the Frederick News Post.