Morning Read: Maryland Lawmakers Dread Possibility of Gambling Special Session - NBC4 Washington
First Read
Your first stop for politics in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Morning Read: Maryland Lawmakers Dread Possibility of Gambling Special Session



    Maryland state legislators are not happy about the prospect of being called back to Annapolis for a second special session focused on gambling issues.

    In fact, State Sen. Jamie Raskin likened the possibility to a middle school student being told on the last day of classes that he has to attend summer school, the Baltimore Sun reports.

    But, the Sun says, there is a strong likelihood the General Assembly will be asked to reconvene in July.

    This bipartisan dread is shared among Republicans and Democrats alike, many of whom think that if gaming expansion is going to be done, it should be done in the regular session.

    But those who back the expansion of gambling want to get the issue to voters in November, which would require them to pass legislation in the General Assembly before then.

    If it is not passed before then, they won’t get another chance until 2014.

    The General Assembly already reconvened for a special session to fix the state budget. Gov. O’Malley did not want to bundle gambling issues in that session because he wanted legislators to solely focus on the budget.

    O’Malley has said he would call a special session to deal with gambling if legislators can reach an agreement that can win majorities in both chambers, according to the Sun.

    The expansion of gambling legislation would allow table games to go with slots and allow for a sixth casino in the state.

    * About 25 activists protested Saturday in front of the Virginia Department of Health against regulations that could raise the cost of abortions in the state and cause some abortion-providing clinics to close.

    According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a spokeswoman for the protesters said the rally was intended to bring attention to a June 15 Board of Health vote on permanent regulations that would require abortion clinics to adhere to standards applied to larger, more comprehensive medical facilities.

    * District leaders left late Saturday for Las Vegas to attend the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention.

    They plan to meet with retailers and investors in the hopes of bringing some big-named retailers to the city. However, Councilmember Marion Barry is currently in a Las Vegas hospital. (See more here.)

    * Roger Chesley, a columnist for the Virginian Pilot, said Virginia politicians love fixing problems that don’t exist.

    "Here's what I don't get:

    Legislators had no evidence that Virginians were heading to the ballot box and voting illegally in substantial numbers.

    Voter fraud has been negligible compared with total turnout.

    None of the state legislators or officials I interviewed -- not one -- could point to a database or study that suggested people were impersonating somebody else at the polls.

    Instead, legislators listened to their gut.

    The Assembly essentially made it tougher for some people to cast a ballot -- even if they're legitimate voters.

    My gut tells me this is exactly what state Republicans were hoping for."

    * Gov. Martin O’Malley had promised residents of Baltimore and the Maryland suburbs they would each get a new light rail line, and that the Red Line and its Purple counterpart outside D.C. could be built at the same time, according to the Baltimore Sun.

    But, the Sun reported, state financial documents recently submitted to the Federal Transit Administration show that this promise would be nearly impossible to keep.

    “The General Assembly's recent rejection of the governor's proposed gas tax hike makes it increasingly likely that the state will have to choose to build one line before the other, state and local transportation officials say. With no new tax revenue dedicated to transportation, finding the money for even one of the light-rail lines will be difficult, the officials say.”