Lawmakers shift blame for slots problems they created

November 17, 2010

Nicole Fuller's Nov. 13 article "Legislators planning big changes to slots law" recounts the latest episode in Maryland's representatives screwing up a funding opportunity in dire economic times. Unfortunately, as Ms. Fuller states, "Lawmakers are limited" to what can be fixed since "voters approved slots as a constitutional amendment." Marylanders voted to allow slots, but the General Assembly drew the language of the referendum, a referendum worded like an earmarked piece of legislative sausage. And now, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller says we are six years behind the times.

After four years of not wanting to pass slots with a Republican governor campaigning for it, the Assembly did not have the courage to pass a bill to permit it. So they permitted Marylanders to give permission by constitutional amendment. However, instead of a yes or no to allow slots, the General Assembly put micromanaging restrictions as to locations, fees and profits within a constitutional amendment which could not be fixed in the future except by revision in a constitutional amendment. When the referendum passed, several articles appeared in the Sunpapers about how and why no slots operator in their right mind would want to pay exorbitant license fees, restrict their profits more than surrounding states and be limited to where they could operate.

So now the gang that continues to not shoot straight acts apologetically surprised that our slots program is in disarray and blaming a constitutional amendment (which they drafted) for tying their hands. This is what happens when the General Assembly wants us to believe we have a voice in Annapolis and assigns blames to voters for their actions.

Charles Herr, Baltimore

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