August 14, 2012

State Roundup, August 14, 2012

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HOUSE PANEL ADDS MORE CUTS: Last night, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the gambling expansion bill 13-7, but guaranteeing deeper tax cuts to casino operators than even the Senate had permitted, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun.

Maryland Live! owners and Anne Arundel officials have opposed the legislation out of concern that the sixth site — which would likely be built at National Harbor or Rosecroft Raceway — would take visitors from their facility, which opened in June, writes David Hill of the Washington Times.

The full House is expected to resume debate on the gambling bill this afternoon. If passed, the bill would authorize a 3,000-slot casino in Prince George’s, which could be located at National Harbor or Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, reports Ben Giles for the Washington Examiner. Table games such as blackjack and roulette would also be legalized at all existing casino sites.

Here’s Dave Collins’ report for WBAL-TV. And John Rydell of WBFF-TV speaks with delegates skeptical of the expansion.

Brian Witte of the AP, writing in the Salisbury Daily Times, quotes Del. Frank Turner as saying, “… this is going to be a very competitive market we have here now, not only inside the state, but outside the state, too. We want people to come to the state of Maryland.”

The final committee approval left the Senate bill largely intact after eight hours of fits and starts, as House leaders and Turner’s subcommittee worked on amendments behind the scenes, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com. Throughout the day, Turner would occasionally bring out a package of amendments that got scant explanation and little debate before a committee room packed with lobbyists, reporters and interested parties

Del. Kathy Afzali was one of seven votes against the measure, saying that lawmakers were not given enough time to consider the bill or propose amendments and that the state did not need to act this year, Danielle Gaines reports in the Frederick News-Post.

Here’s the committee’s vote, brought to you by David Moon of Maryland Juice.

Duane Keenan of MarylandReporter.com filed an audio report on the two major issues moving to the House floor today, gambling expansion and liability for dog bites.

Earlier in the day, efforts to pass a bill to expand gambling in Maryland encountered another hurdle as Baltimore legislators sought protection for a planned casino near the Inner Harbor, reports Earl Kelly and Pamela Wood for the Capital-Gazette.

The Sun editorial board opines that expanding gambling now is a mistake, but if the legislature insists on doing so, it must make key changes to the governor’s bill.

PIT BULLS IN HOUSE: A House committee approved a much narrower version of a bill on injuries caused by dogs than the Senate passed last week, imposing a tighter liability standard for bites only in cases where the animals are running loose, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

BOYCOTT FIZZLES: Del. Glen Glass’ plans to boycott the special session of General Assembly now entering its second week in Annapolis have gone to the dogs, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

SCHOOL FUNDING: Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News writes that recent changes in school funding, including shifting many of the costs of teacher pensions to counties, may come back to bite education advocates. Incentives that counties might have had to fund schools above maintenence of effort requirements seems to be gone, said Michael Sanderson, the executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties.

BGE CRITICIZED: About 50 residents of Anne Arundel County and surrounding areas gathered at a Public Service Commission hearing last night to rail against BGE, accusing it of failing to restore power to their homes for days after the deadly, quick-moving derecho, providing them with little information as to when power would return and failing to upgrade dated infrastructure in their neighborhoods, writes Kevin Rector of the Sun.

CARDIN IN CHICAGO: Del. Jon Cardin took his fundraising efforts for a possible Maryland attorney general campaign all the way to Chicago last week, writes Bryan Sears for Patch.com.

THE INFLUENCERS: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland addresses the comments he’s received since he first listed those people he thinks have an influence in the political life of Marylanders with a bunch of additions.

RYAN REACTION: Maryland Republicans praised Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate as a bold choice for the campaign, but state Democrats criticized Romney’s decision because of Ryan’s positions on cutting benefits to the poor and middle class and opposition to abortion, even when the pregnant woman’s life is endangered, writes the Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford.

COMPLAINT DISMISSED: The Frederick County Ethics Commission has decided there was no need to investigate whether Commissioners President Blaine Young committed an ethics violation when he issued a statement in June concerning the Supreme Court ruling about the Affordable Care Act, reports Pete McCarthy for the Frederick News Post. The commission decided instead to issue a written opinion on how to handle such matters in the future.

  • Rog

    Great reporting Len!