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The Special Session Starts Today, The Sparrows Point Steel Mill Is Sold, MD's Infant Mortality Rate, and A Request For Drought-Related Disaster Relief
August 9, 2012
Lawmakers are returning to Annapolis today for a special General Assembly session, called by Governor Martin O'Malley to consider a bill that would expand the state's casino gambling program. The legislation would permit a new casino in Prince George's County and would let all Maryland casinos have table games. It would also change tax rates on slot machine revenue for most licenced casinos, would allow all state casinos to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and would prohibit casino owners from making campaign contributions. The draft legislation is available here.
This afternoon, a State Senate committee will take up the measure; it could get a final vote in the full Senate before the day is over. The legislation will be considered in the House of Delegates tomorrow. If it passes, voters will get to the final say in November. There's more on the session and the legislation here from the Washington Post, here and here from the Baltimore Sun, and here from the Daily Times.
State Comptroller Peter Franchot is calling for the disclosure of gambling donations that have already come in (via the Baltimore Sun).
The current legislation has strong opposition from two companies already involved in Maryland casinio gambling. The Cordish Companies, which run the Maryland Live! Casino in Anne Arundel County, say that legislation is "patently unfair" to existing operations. Penn National Gaming, which runs the Hollywood Casino Perryville, also says it has concerns about the bill, noting that its facility would not recieve targeted tax relief under it for slot machine revenues; all other Maryland casinos would (more here from the Baltimore Sun and here from the Daily Record).
Gambling's not the only issue on the agenda -- lawmakers will also consider a bill that would overturn a ruling from Maryland's Court of Appeals that pit bulls and pit bull mixes are "inherently dangerous" dogs; that ruling would make landlords liable if one of their tenants dogs attacks. The bill removing liability from landlords gets a hearing this afternoon in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee (via our wire service and the Washington Post). Also under consideration will be an amendment to the state constituion that would give voters a say on whether to fund major transportation projects (via the Baltimore Business Journal).
Recent mass killings in the United States may force us to consider once again if anything can be done about gun violence in our country. WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments in his weekly essay.
The Sparrows Point steel mill was auctioned off earlier this week -- and we now know that the high bidder was a company specializing in the sale of used machinery. Hilco Industrial bid $72-million for the historic Baltimore County plant. The future of Sparrow's Point is still unclear, Steel Mill's General Manager says that Hilco has promised not to destroy key steelmaking assets for six months while unsecured creditors attempt to find an operator (via the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Brew, and the Baltimore Business Journal).
Maryland now permits its residents to register to vote online. To do so, you'll need a drivers license or an official state ID card; the website for registering online is here. The change took effect last month, and Governor Martin O'Malley's office has been promoting it this week (via the Baltimore Sun).
As drought conditions continue around more than three quarters of Maryland, Governor O'Malley is asking for federal disaster relief for 13 of the most affected counties. The counties are: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Prince George's, Queen Anne's, Somerset, St. Mary's, Talbot and Wicomico (via our wire service, the Baltimore Sun, and the Daily Times.)
Maryland's infant mortality rate held steady last year at 6.7 per one-thousand live births, the same as the year before and a record low (via our wire service and the Baltimore Sun).
The US Army says it plans to do more water testing in Carroll Creek, after chemical contamination from Frederick's Fort Detrick was discovered there last month (via the Frederick News Post).
Construction of the Grand Prix track is underway in Baltimore. The two-mile track is currently being set up by crews working overnight hours, leaving streets and sidewalks open during the day. The only street scheduled for closure before Friday, August 31st, is Sharp Street, which will be closed two days earlier (via our wire service).
In sports news this morning: The Ravens will be in Georgia tonight, to kick off the 2012 preseason; they'll play against the Atlanta Falcons.
And: The Orioles beat the Seattle Mariners for the third time in a row yesterday; the score was 9 to 2. Tonight, the O's kick off a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals; the game starts at 7:05 at Camden Yards.
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