Maryland Special Session – Not Over Until It’s Over

Posted on November 16, 2007

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Today (Friday), we wait to see if 85 members of the Maryland House of Delegates can work up the gumption to vote for a referendum on slots.

Wait a minute. That’s what I wrote yesterday! The Special Session of the General Assembly is starting to look like the movie Groundhog Day.

Senate President Mike Miller is keeping his eye on the ball. Gov. Martin O’Malley called the Special Session primarily to consider and pass a tax package to cure Maryland’s structural deficit. Miller said today that the tax package can be salvaged, even if the House of Delegates fails to pass slots. Miller is showing leadership and determination by keeping his eye on what’s most important.

But Miller doesn’t want the House of Delegates playing games with the slots issue. He specifically does not want the House to pass only a bill authorizing a referendum, but hold off until January on another bill regulating the details of how slots casinos would operate and how the money would be divided. Miller wants the House to address both aspects of the slots issue, as the Senate has done. If the House can’t pass both bills in the Special Session, Miller would prefer that it pass neither.

The Senate is awaiting House action. The Senate will reconvene Saturday morning, with the goal of bringing the Special Session to a successful conclusion by Saturday night or Sunday.

Yesterday (Thursday), the House Ways and Means Committee reversed itself on slots locations. The committee gave up its effort to add Frederick and Harford counties as potential slots sites, and restored Ocean Downs as a site. This returns to the list of slots sites proposed by O’Malley and passed by the Senate. The information in this and recent posts is based mostly on reports by The Washington Post and by WBAL reporter Robert Lang. 

Finally, a question: Is the Montgomery County House delegation part of the problem in the Special Session, or part of the solution?  — Bernie Hayden

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