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THE CIRCUS IS COMING BACK TO TOWN

June Smith

Cramming the expansion of gambling down our throats starts Thursday in Annapolis when the Senate convenes the Special Session at 11:30 a.m. Nothing like getting an early start.

Senate President Miller wants the work to be done efficiently to keep expenses to a minimum and is encouraging members of the Assembly to “travel home in the evenings if it is reasonable to do so”.

Lodging reimbursements “will be decided on a case by case basis with priority given to members who must travel a significant distance,” said Miller.

Those savings won’t make a dent in the overall cost of the $30,000 per day session that is expected to run three or four days, if we’re lucky.

On day one, members of the Senate will blather on about the legislation and then adjourn while the Budget and Taxation committee holds a hearing and votes on the bill that’s yet to be released to the public.

On day two, there will be the usual haggling over the amendments before the voting takes place. Miller is confident that the bill will pass and be sent over to the House of Delegates.

Many members of the House had scheduling conflicts so they don’t have to travel significant or insignificant distances until Friday morning to set about their task.

It’s anticipated that the bill won’t slither as quickly through the House and the decision on the referendum is still a crap shoot.

Swooning over the thought of an additional $100 million in state revenues, the “bulk” of it going to education (sound familiar?), and the creation of thousands of jobs from expanding gambling, the Governor recently said, “It’s time now to act and put this issue behind us so we can move forward on the other issues” facing the state.

Ironically, citing falling revenues, Hollywood Casino announced today it wants to return 500 of its 1,500 slot machines to the state. State Lottery officials haven’t decided how to respond to that yet and said no decision would be made until after the Special Session.

But I digress…

Once gambling is off the table, those gathered for the Special Session will move forward on one of those other “issues” facing the state: the Court of Appeals’ recent pit bull decision. So the meter will be running while that’s being pawed through and chewed to the bone.

The Assembly’s task force that examined the Court’s decision on the “inherently dangerous” breed wants to remove landlord liability for pit bull bites and put the liability for bites by dogs of all breeds on their owners.

The circus is coming back to town and the hyperbole and juggling are about to begin.

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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