O'Malley says he's "confident" about special session

August 09, 2012|by Annie Linskey

Gov. Martin O'Malley acknowledged this morning there are divisions within the Senate Democratic caucus on his gambling expansion legislation, but said he is "confident" the measure will pass in both chambers.

"We have to create jobs," O'Malley said. "This is about creating jobs and remaining competitive with other states."

The Senate is set to go into session in a few minutes so O'Malley's gambling bill can be introduced. A hearing is scheduled for this afternoon.

The bill has been expected to sail through the chamber, though Republican leaders said this morning that some members of their caucus are re-thinking their position on the bill. In April, ten GOP senators expressed support for expanded gambling. "That will not be the case this time," said state Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Harford Republican.

Jacobs said her caucus will introduce 10 jobs bills that don't involve gambling. She accused O'Malley of striking "backroom deals" to pass the measure.

She's also upset that the casino in her backyard -- the Penn National-owned Hollywood Casino Perryville -- gets the smallest tax break. The establishment just told the state it wants to scale back gambling because of lower than expected demand.  "You walk into Perryville and it is empty," she said.

Meanwhile, some African-American contractors from Prince George's County are rallying outside the State House in opposition. They are concerned they will be shut out of the jobs created by construction of a new casino.

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