Maryland Senate Votes for Pit Bull Bill, Expanded Gambling

Md. Senate Votes for Special Session Measures

The Maryland Senate approved a measure allowing table games like blackjack and a new casino near the nation's capital and voted to change a state law so that it creates a strict liability standard for owners of all dogs, not just pit bulls.

The Senate voted for expanded gambling Friday -- the second day of a special session called by Gov. Martin O'Malley in hopes of resolving a difficult issue in the state.

Swift passage was expected in the Senate, which passed a bill earlier this year to expand gambling.

The measure stalled in the House of Delegates, the tougher chamber for gambling legislation. A House committee held a hearing on the governor's measure Friday.

The gambling measure would allow a casino in Prince George's County. A key part of the bill cuts Maryland's 67 percent tax rate on casinos to varying degrees.

The pit bull bill was in response to a court ruling that determined pit bulls are “inherently dangerous” animals. That April decision by Maryland's highest court created a breed-specific, strict-liability standard for owners of pit bulls or pit bull breeds. Under the ruling, a pit bull owner could be liable for a dog bite without previous evidence of the dog being dangerous.

The passed bill also reverses a part of the ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals that made landlords strictly liable for pit bull bites.

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