August 10, 2012

State Roundup, August 10, 2012

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PANEL OKS GAMING BILL: A Maryland Senate committee voted 11-1 yesterday to allow table games like blackjack and a casino site near the nation’s capital, moving swiftly on the first day of a special session to expand gambling in the state, reports the AP’s Brian Witte in the Salisbury Daily Times.

The House is where the gambling legislation could die, as reticent delegates refused to approve an expansion both in the General Assembly and through a special gambling task force, writes Ben Giles in the Washington Examiner.

The Gazette’s coverage by Daniel Leaderman includes a list of key provisions in the bill.

MILLER OPTIMISTIC: The Maryland Senate prepared to take up the governor’s gambling bill today as Senate President Mike Miller expressed cautious optimism that the General Assembly will approve the measure by early next week, reports Michael Dresser and Annie Linskey of the Sun.

ARUNDEL ON OFFENSIVE: A spokesman for the developer of the Maryland Live! Casino received a warm reception from a hometown crowd yesterday morning when he appeared before the Anne Arundel County legislative delegation to warn of grave damage to the Arundel Mills facility if Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposed gambling expansion legislation goes through the General Assembly unchanged, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

In an article for the Capital-Gazette, Pamela Wood and Earl Kelly report that Del. Ron George, an Arnold Republican who leads Anne Arundel’s delegates, said the legislation is “really unfriendly to Anne Arundel County.”

Anne Arundel County lawmakers at the hearing peppered the governor’s chief lobbyist with their misgivings about the gaming expansion bill introduced yesterday and its impact on the state’s largest casino at Arundel Mills, Dana Amihere reports for MarylandReporter.com

YOUNG SEEKS FREDERICK CONCESSION: Sen. Ron Young of Frederick County plans to seize the opportunity to advance a local proposal that has failed to gain steam in the past: to allow local nonprofit fraternal, religious or veteran organizations to own up to five slot machines, Bethany Rodgers writes for the Frederick News Post.

SOME GOP SUPPORT: Although the 43-member House GOP caucus opposed having a special session on gambling, now that one has been called, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun, some members say they haven’t ruled out supporting the legislation.

JUST SAY NO: The editorialists for the Sun opine that the projected benefit to the state of a Prince George’s casino isn’t worth the risk of over-saturating Maryland’s gambling market.

WHAT IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT: In an op-ed in the Sun, Douglas Schmidt lays bare the six facts and future truths behind the whole gambling issue including: It’s about money and there is no plan, there is only chaos.

There’s no escaping the gambling craze, whether in the dripping heat of Annapolis in August or the sunny beaches of a cooler Rhode Island. So Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com sizes up the the arguments for and against the legislation.

ORAL ARGUMENTS: Timb Mantegna of Global Rhetoric writes that if you want to hold a special session for extraordinary reasons, gambling isn’t it. But the fact that oral sex is still illegal in the state of Maryland, well, that is extraordinary.

PIT BULL BILL: Anna Staver of Patch.com writes that Maryland’s Senate Judicial Services Committee voted 6-3 in favor of a bill that would overturn the state’s Court of Appeals decision declaring pit bulls “inherently dangerous.”

Duane Keenan for MarylandReporter.com provides an audio report on the demonstration and then the hearing on legislation to overturn the court ruling.

Blair Lee’s Gazette column tackles the pit bull legislation at the special session, calling it more of an emergency than the gambling bill.

GAY MARRIAGE: No state has ever approved gay marriage at the ballot box, but advocates here and elsewhere — The New York Times published a piece titled “Hopeful news from Maryland” — contend that the issue hasn’t polled this well before either. But, writes Richard Vatz in an op-ed in the Sun, they shouldn’t get too excited just yet.

O’S RELEASE ANTI-BULLYING AD: In a related issue, the Baltimore Orioles have released a video statement for the “It Gets Better” campaign against anti-LGBT bullying and youth suicide, blogs David Moon of Maryland Juice.

GUN TRAINING: Responding to a court decision that could scrap the state law requiring concealed-carry permit applicants to provide “good and substantial reason” for needing firearms, Baltimore City Sen. Bill Ferguson wants to require handgun owners to complete a training course, reports David Hill for the Washington Times.

PAYING FOR NO SERVICE: Maryland regulators are investigating an unusual billing mechanism that allows utilities to raise rates temporarily to recover money they lose when electricity use drops. As a result, this allows them to charge residents for the first 24 hours of outages, such as that suffered by hundreds of thousands in the aftermath of a June 29 storm, writes Victor Zapana for the Post.

BATTAGLIA CONSIDERS MD RUN: Lynne Battaglia, the Clinton-era U.S. attorney for Maryland who has been a Court of Appeals judge for the past 11 years, is considering running for attorney general in 2014, according to knowledgeable sources, writes Josh Kurtz for Center Maryland.

LEOPOLD’S WOES: Depositions given under oath by Anne Arundel County police officers said County Executive John Leopold personally ordered the firing of a county employee who had complained about his conduct, Erin Cox and Andrea Siegel report in the Sun. The depositions were filed yesterday in U.S. District Court as part of Karla Hamner’s harassment lawsuit against the county.

BUDGET REPORTS: Federal budget cuts and transportation needs threaten to unbalance Maryland’s budget, according to two reports, Daniel Leaderman writes in the Gazette.

PG HOSPITAL: In the Gazette, Barry Rascovar says a solution to the hospital quagmire in Prince George’s County is underway, but still has far to go. He calls it a much more important issue there than a new casino.