O'Malley names panel to study gambling expansion

May 21, 2012|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

Gov. Martin O'Malley named an 11-member work group Monday night to study a possible expansion of gambling in Maryland and announced that if the group can reach consensus he would call a special session July 9 to vote on casino legislation.

O'Malley selected John Morton III, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority and prominent business executive, to chair the panel. Representing the administration will be Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster, chief of staff Matthew Gallagher, appointments secretary Jeanne Hitchcock and chief legislative aide Joseph Bryce.

The Senate will be represented by three loyal allies of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller -- Sens. Edward J. Kasemeyer of Howard County, Nathaniel McFadden of Baltimore and Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County. House Speaker Michael E. Busch's choices are Dels. Sheila Hixson of Montgomery County, Peter Hammen of Baltimore and Frank Turner of Howard County. All are Democrats.

The appointments mean that there will be no lawmakers who are full members of the work group from Prince George's County, the jurisdiction whose administration is avidly promoting the addition of a sixth casino location at National Harbor. Two Prince George's lawmakers, Sen. Douglas Peters and Del. Dereck Davis, will serve as alternates.

Other alternates will be Sen. George Edwards of Garrett County and Del. Robert Costa of Anne Arundel County, the only Republicans on the panel; Sen. Rob Garagiola of Montgomery, and Del. Eric Luedtke of Montgomery.

The governor said the work group will hold its first meeting June 1 in Annapolis. Additional meetings were set for June 12 and June 20.

Miller and the Senate, eager to generate more state revenue,  have been enthusiastic backers of a plan to add a Prince George's casino and to allow the five slots-only facilities allowed under current law to add table games. The House has been more skeptical of gambling expansion, with many delegates expressing concern that a new site at National Harbor could hurt business at the sites that have alreadey been approved.

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