ANNAPOLIS -- A legislative review committee has ordered Maryland Racing Commission officials to meet with black lawmakers before the panel approves regulations for off-track betting parlors.
Black legislators are concerned by the commission's failure to propose a regulation providing for equal opportunities for minorities, said state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, a Pikesville-Randallstown area Democrat who chairs the review committee.
The Racing Commission has drawn up rules for a new state law legalizing sports palaces, facilities where people can bet on horse races simulcast from the tracks.
Racing Commission Chairman John H. Mosner Jr. has agreed to meet with the Legislative Black Caucus. But whether the panel will turn its non-discrimination policy into a specific regulation is unclear.
"I assure you, as far as the commission is concerned, there's not going to be any discrimination. That's as far as we can go," Mr. Mosner said.
The Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee decided Tuesday to postpone its vote on the proposed off-track betting regulations this month so the meeting could be set up.
The General Assembly passed a law this spring allowing off-track betting in the state and left it up to the Racing Commission to propose rules for the parlors.
Racing Commission representatives said they don't have the authority to address discrimination in a regulation because the issue is not mentioned in the body of the off-track betting law.
"We did not think we could do something through a regulation that you couldn't do by legislation," Kenneth A. Schertle, executive director of the Racing Commission, told legislators.