The Sublime Unhappiness of Mike Miller
Mike Busch has lost control of the House of Delegates and there is a great possibility that slots will not pass. It is nearly guaranteed, but after the goat rope we witnessed yesterday with the switching of slots locations from Ocean City to Frederick to Ocean City in a matter of hours we have to realize that nothing in Busch’s House is guaranteed, that if slots do pass the House they will do so without implementing legislation.
His inability last night to corral 85 votes speaks to the unpopularity of the issue, his weakness as a Speaker, and the ill-conceived idea of providing Mike Miller cover by going to a referendum rather than a simple vote.
We’ve got to say that despite Miller’s weakness as a lame duck senate president that he’s done a lot better job of carrying O’Malley’s water in the General Assembly than the other half of Mike2. This has made Mike Miller more than a little unhappy. From the Washington Post:
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), one of the legislature’s biggest slots proponents, reacted angrily when it appeared that the House might pass the bill authorizing a referendum but not consider the slots implementation measure during the session. With the referendum date a year away, several delegates said there was no need to reach agreement now on all details of a slots program. Some said they could even wait to see whether a referendum passes before acting.
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Miller called that prospect “a total fraud,” saying that would make it “highly unlikely” that his chamber would seek to reconcile other bills passed during the session with versions approved by the House. Those bills would raise an additional $1.4 billion in annual tax revenue and direct O’Malley to cut about $500 million from next year’s budget.
“I think the session can be saved if they pass nothing or they pass both bills,” Miller said of the slots legislation pending in the House. He said lawmakers should not be “lying and stealing and cheating the public into thinking you’re doing something when you’re not.”
Busch later chastised Miller for his “flowery language,” saying: “I think it’s unbecoming of a presiding officer.”
The Baltimore Sun characterized this as a “tirade.” In the meantime Governor O’Malley did his best impression of Baptist preacher at a tent revival while cutting backroom deals that we won’t know about until the final bills are passed.
O’Malley spent much of the afternoon laboring to keep the session on track. He gave what those in attendance called an impassioned speech about reaching consensus at a closed-door meeting of House Democrats, holed up with Busch in the speaker’s office and met with wavering delegates from Montgomery, who relayed their desire for additional school construction funding.