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Saturday, August 04, 2012

Gambling: Where's the bill???

Maryland lawmakers waiting to see gambling bill
Post, 3 Aug 2012 (Wagner)
...This week, rank-and-file lawmakers have been relegated to a game of another sort: waiting.

For the past two weeks, O’Malley has advertised the upcoming release of a draft bill so that lawmakers can begin studying its provisions.

On Friday, spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said the legislation would likely be made available “early next week.” ...

“There’s no final bill yet, so there’s not much to talk about,” said Del. Eric G. Leudtke (D-Montgomery), who served on a gambling work group this spring.

“Check with the governor’s office, not us,” added Del. Sheila E. Hixson (D-Montgomery), chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over gambling legislation.

Few lawmakers seem to be relishing their return to Annapolis next week. Many have had to reschedule summer vacations or juggle plans to attend conferences.

Among those is Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George’s), who chairs her county’s legislative delegation. She is among 17 legislators signed up to attend this year’s National Conference of State Legislatures conference in Chicago and would have to hurry back.

Members of the Prince George’s delegation, which remains divided about the prospect of hosting a casino, had tentatively planned to meet this weekend to review the details of the bill. Without a bill, that plan has been scrapped.

“It makes a complicated process even more complicated,” Griffith said.

“The time to deliberate and comb through the details of the bill just doesn’t exist before the session,” Griffith said. “There’s a question of how much opportunity we’ll have to shape the legislation.”

Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin (R-Cecil) was a little more blunt in a press release he issued this week headlined: “Pipkin to O’Malley: Where’s the bill?”

“The special session starts in less than a week,” Pipkin wrote. “The governor has had all summer to craft the proposal. Where’s the bill?”

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