3, 2012 Special Session - A Gambling Session
Special Session - an activity devised to test the patience and
long suffering of the members of the House of Delegates. This
entire exercise has been an example of the disorganization and
poor leadership in Annapolis. The very important issue of expanding
gambling should have been taken up during the regular 90 day session,
either this past winter or next year. However, the Maryland General
Assembly did finally vote in support of the gambling bill. The
new casino in Prince George's County will not come on line until
2017, Baltimore City in 2015 and Allegany County will not get
table games before 2014. Clearly there was no emergency involved
in this issue and absolutely no reason to rush this measure through
in a couple of days. Some highlights of the bill that passed:
" Opens up a 6th gambling location in Prince Georges County "
Opens all venues to full table gaming " Currently, the casinos
must close at 2 AM on weeknights and 4 AM on weekends. This measure
rescinds the limited hours of the casinos and allows them to be
open 24 hours a day - 365 days a year " Tax breaks will be given
to all six casino owners that other businesses do not get I voted
against this bill. I voted no because the process was wrong in
rushing this huge change in policy through in a few short days.
Citizens and interested parties did not have the proper amount
of time to study the issue and let their legislators know of intended
and unintended consequences. There was a work group that met in
the spring to study this issue and they could not reach a consensus.
(There were no voting Republicans in the workgroup - it was a
handpicked group.) The work group did recommend that the legislature
NOT be called into a special session. Yet, this issue was rammed
through the General Assembly in a special session in the usual
monopoly control fashion. The promised financial windfall to the
State from gambling will not materialize as promised. Looking
back to the slots debate in 2005, analysts in Annapolis estimated
that four slots venues would yield $1.047 Billion annually. This
was so grossly overestimated, as the promise of slots and table
games are overestimated today. In the end, the six fat cat casino
owners will get triple the amount of money than the "children,"
in the promised Education Trust Fund. The bill passed with 71
votes, the exact number needed. The vote against this bill was
bi-partisan. We agreed that there was no reason to rush this measure
through the General Assembly in a special session, it needed a
more thoughtful and thorough approach to the whole process.
bill dies in the Senate
I voted for Senate Bill 2, a measure that addressed the recent
court decision that unfairly targets a single breed of dog, pit-bulls.
SB 2 puts responsibility squarely in the hands of dog owners and
eliminates any mention of a specific dog breed. My son owns a
pitbull and she is a wonderful dog, not aggressive or mean. SB
2 passed unanimously out of the House of Delegates. Unfortunately,
the Senate refused to take up our amended bill and so it did not
pass. Look for this issue to be revisited during the 2013 legislative
session that begins on January 9, 2013.