The special legislative session on gambling is underway and the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted 11-1 Thursday to send the bill to the Senate floor, which will likely start debating the bill Friday morning.
If the Senate passes the bill, it will then go to the House floor, where it is expected to face a tougher battle. The House did not pass the gambling expansion bill during the regular session.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said that the earliest the session could wrap up is Tuesday, according to The Post.
If the first day of the session is any sign, the gambling legislation isn’t going to pass without controversy.
-Buzzfeed reported Thursday that a top LGBT civil rights group sent out a mailer to Maryland voters saying that if they support the state’s marriage equality law, they should oppose the effort to expand gambling in the state.
The marriage law will be on the ballot in November and if the gambling bill passes it will also be in on the ballot.
"If the gaming bill is on the ballot, opponents are likely to spend millions identifying and turning out voters who don't like gambling ... and who also don't like Marriage Equality! So all the 'no' votes on gaming could also be 'no' votes for us," the mailer states. "Numerous polls confirm this, and several bloggers and political pundits in Maryland have said the same thing."
-Red Maryland’s criticism of the bill honed in on a provision within O’Malley’s proposed gambling legislation that would ban political contributions
Seeing as the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Montana's century old ban on corporate political contributions, it is highly unlikely O'Malley's ban would pass constitutional muster, should the legislature approve it.
However, O'Malley's solution is fixing the barn door after the horses got out. Last month the state's gambling commission awarded Caesars Entertainment the license to build a casino in Baltimore. Of course, Caesars donated a cool $100,000 to the O'Malley led Democratic Governor's Association in March. But O'Malley assures us that had nothing to do with Caesars winning the license.
-Maryland Reporter laid out some of the concerns of Anne Arundel County lawmakers.
-But it wasn’t all bad news for the gambling legislation. The Baltimore Sun reports that some members within the GOP may actually back the gambling bill.
Despite the House GOP caucus opposing having the special session, some members say that since the session has been called, they haven’t completely ruled out supporting the legislation.
Other Republicans are looking at the revenue that expanded gambling could bring to the state. "Anything is better than adding more tax burden to the citizens," said Baltimore County Del. Susan Aumann, though she said she has "some reservations" about expanding gambling.
-The Sun has a list of the top five people to watch in Annapolis during the special session.
-A Senate committee also passed the pit bull measure Thursday. If passed the measure would overturn the state's Court of Appeals decision that defined pit bulls as "inherently dangerous..”
IN OTHER NEWS:
* The Virginia Senate race between two former governors, Tim Kaine and George Allen, remains deadlocked.
* The Washington Blade reports that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who also serves as chair of the GOP platform committee, won’t allow a lesbian veteran from his state to testify on same-sex marriage and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act before the committee.
A McDonnell spokesman said the vet wasn’t allowed to speak because speaking opportunities had already been allocated.
* D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry is holding up the approval of a $4.5 million contract for stabilization work on the District-owned St. Elizabeth’s east campus to negotiate more jobs for D.C. residents.
* Former Republican Northern Virginia lawmaker Jeannemarie Devolites Davis is mulling a run for lieutenant governor in 2013. h
* A former D.C. cop admitted Thursday to falsifying radar camera testing records, which resulted in the department having to refund more than $17,000 in traffic ticket fines.