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Gambling Bill Passes; Dog Owner Liability Bill Fails
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August 15, 2012
Early this morning, The General Assembly approved a plan to expand gambling in Maryland after a marathon session in the House of Delegates. At the same time, a bill to reverse the effect of a Court of Appeals ruling that holds the owners of pit bulls, but no other breed of dog, strictly responsible for any injury their dogs might cause died. WYPR’s Joel McCord reports.
Joel McCord: The gambling bill, which adds a sixth casino in Prince George’s County and allows table games such as blackjack at all gambling sites, barely squeezed through the House with a minimum 71 votes. The final Senate vote, 32-14, came shortly afterward. Senate President Mike Miller called the decision a win-win for the Maryland.
Mike Miller: “Mostly, the taxpayers are going to benefit because we’re not going to have to raise taxes, school children are going to benefit because the money’s going to go to schools. We’re going to create jobs and create revenue.”
McCord: The bill appeared to be in trouble earlier in the day when the start of the House session was delayed more than two hours. The log jam apparently broke when Democratic leaders offered to allow electronic bingo at veterans’ organizations to secure the last few votes for passage. It was a provision that has been regularly rejected by a key House committee. Republican leader Tony O’Donnell called it an attempt to use veterans to buy votes in a debate with the sponsor, Sonny Minnick. Both of them are Navy veterans.
Tony O’Donnell and Sonny Minnick: “Many of us want to help the veterans, many of us want to help veterans (I know you do) absolutely do. But I also know this that I find it offensive that veterans would ever be used.”
McCord: In the end, O’Donnell said he wasn’t necessarily opposed to gambling, but he complained bitterly about the efforts to get the votes for the bill.
O’Donnell: “But the way that we’re doing it in this special session and what we’ve witnessed over the last couple of days and people in offices and people being pulled in and delays. You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it and yes, I know what I know.”
McCord: House Speaker Mike Busch denied, however, there were extra efforts to get the votes.
Mike Busch: “I’ve always believed since the day we came here that we would have the votes to pass the bill.”
McCord: After the vote, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker appeared in the State House lobby to thank Delegates from his county who pushed the bill through. He watched the Senate vote from the gallery and then met with Governor Martin O’Malley before talking with reporters in lobby.
Rushern Baker: “I think this puts us on the way not only to creating jobs in Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland, but also revenues for the state and the county. So I feel good about where we’re going and I think people are going to vote for the referendum.”
McCord: The question will go before the voters in November. It must be approved statewide as well as in Prince George’s to allow the sixth casino. Should it win statewide, but not in Prince George’s the other gaming sites in the state will be allowed table games.
The Senate refused to concur with changes the House made to its pit bull bill, effectively killing the bill, at least for now. O’Malley has scheduled a bill signing ceremony for this morning.
I’m Joel McCord, reporting in Annapolis for 88.1, WYPR.
You can reach the WYPR Newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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