- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
- U.N. warns of Muslim ‘cleansing’ in Central African Republic
Maryland House lawmakers set to work on gambling
Voters would decide casino question
ANNAPOLIS — House lawmakers appear ready to make drastic changes to a gambling expansion bill that the Senate passed last week, but Democratic House leaders still don’t know whether they will have enough votes. The HouseWays and Means Committee is expected to amend and vote Monday on a proposal to start the process of allowing table games in Maryland and a new casino in Prince George’s County. If the legislation passes both chambers, it would have to be approved by voters in a November referendum.
While the Senate passed the bill by a relatively easy 28-14 vote last week, the House of Delegates is where the battles will be fought. Even the bill’s supporters are calling for tweaks to better compensate casino operators, local governments and causes such as education.
While officials hope to wrap up the special session by Tuesday night, lawmakers say they will first have to get through lengthy negotiations in the House and then between the two chambers — if the bill gets that far.
“It’s just going to depend on what the bill shapes up to be,” said House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch, a Baltimore Democrat and Ways and Means member. “There are still some things that have the committee somewhat uncomfortable and until some of those are changed, I think it’s 50-50.”
The House and Senate have failed to see eye to eye on casino legislation since this past spring’s regular session, when a Senate-backed bill died in the House because of concerns that a sixth casino would crowd the market and take business from the state’s other facilities — particularly the Maryland Live casino in Anne Arundel County and a planned casino in Baltimore.
Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, proposed legislation last week that would lower the current tax rates at the Anne Arundel and Baltimore casinos from 67 percent to 62 percent, and lower the rate for the existing Ocean Downs casino to 57 percent to cushion the blow from added competition.
He said that along with the increased competition from a Prince George’s facility, lawmakers have concerns about the percentages of revenue that go to counties. A planned gaming commission in the bill could have too much power, he said.
The commission would be appointed by the governor and could alter tax rates for the Anne Arundel and Baltimore facilities, although the General Assembly would have the power to override any changes.
“It’s going to fall down to how many in Prince George’s and how many in Baltimore vote against the bill,” he said.
Delegate Curtis S. Anderson, Baltimore Democrat and chairman of his city’s House delegation, said city lawmakers are currently undecided on the bill but will support it if legislators allot a larger portion of the city’s casino revenue to school construction.
“Our schools are in horrible shape. We haven’t had a school built in 20 years,” he said. “Under the right circumstances, the majority of the delegation would vote for it. I’m just waiting to see if those circumstances are met.”
While Anne Arundel and Baltimore lawmakers appear to be acting in relative unison, there is some discord among Prince George’s House members as some have stood firm against the proposal despite urging of support from County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Md. drivers could face eventual doubling of gas tax
- Federal appeals court restores Maryland's concealed carry law
- Md. bill would end student suspensions for mimicking gun behavior
- Maryland Senate passes bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell assailed on transportation
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- BRUCE: Obama's bizarre immigration rules
- IRS to turn over Lerner emails in tea party targeting probe
- DELAY: A revolution for the Constitution
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Unemployment insurance vote could happen next week
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again