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RUNNING WITH SCISSORS

June Smith

So today, the Governor, sandwiched between Miller and Busch, surrounded by gambling expansion supporters Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, and a dozen of representatives of organized labor a/k/a the gang that waged high-powered lobbying efforts in favor of the proposal, called lawmakers back to Annapolis for another Special Session, this time betting on the passage of the expansion of gambling in the Free State.

The188 members of the General Assembly will gather August 9th to debate the issue at the cost of $30,000 a day. The second Special Session is expected to last a couple of days.

The session will give legislators just enough time to debate and vote on whether to put the proposal for expanding gambling and pave the way for a casino in P.G. County on the November ballot.

The legislation hasn’t yet been written but that’s just a technicality. The Governor said it is “still being hammered out” and the full bill “will be released a few days before the legislature convenes.”

The state’s 67% tax on slot machine revenues will remain at that rate for now, or as O’Malley said, “until the citizens make a decision about whether there would be a sixth site.”

If the proposal passes, O’Malley said it will add an additional $100 million in state revenue with the “bulk” of it going to education and will create thousands of construction and permanent jobs. “It’s time now to act and put this issue behind us so we can move forward on the other issues” facing the state, he added.

No doubt it’s a divisive issue. So is the second special session. Assembly Republicans have objected to this special session and argued that the issue should be handled in next year’s session.

This boils down to a Rocks, Paper, Scissors-style game between the Democrats and Republicans with a few new rules. Rocks will be thrown, tons of paper wasted printing the bills, retorts, testimonies and newspaper reports, and in the end, the scissors held by the Governor and controlling party will cut through all of it to get what they want.

Running with scissors seems to be the new motto of State Government.

June Smith is the widow of Ron Smith, WBAL Talk Show Host, Emmy® Award winner, and Baltimore Sun columnist, who was a media titan in Maryland area and beyond for almost forty years. Her tribute website, founded in his memory, is www.FriendsofRonSmith.com.  She is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. Her email is june@friendsofronsmith.com.





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