Maryland Republicans are blasting the governor’s decision to reconvene the General Assembly to consider an expansion of gambling, and at least one lawmaker says he’ll boycott the session.
“The real crisis in Maryland is not whether there should be a sixth casino location, but rather the trend of recent job losses,” Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin (R-Dist. 36) of Elkton said in a statement Friday.
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) announced Friday that the legislature would reconvene Aug. 9 to consider a controversial plan to expand gambling in the state by allowing Las Vegas-style table games and a sixth casino site to be located in Prince George’s County.
The debate about expansion was left unresolved at the end of the legislature’s regular session in April and has dragged into the summer, fueling speculation there might not be enough support within the House of Delegates for such a measure to pass.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Dist. 30) of Annapolis said Friday he was confident the votes were in place.
But the House Republican leadership, which opposes reconvening, remains concerned that a special session wouldn’t give lawmakers enough time to properly and publicly weigh the issues.
“There’s no emergency. We can take this up in a regular session,” House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell (R-Dist. 29C) of Lusby told The Gazette on Monday. “We haven’t even seen a bill yet.”
Legislative leaders expect the session to last about three days; a special session could cost about $25,000 per day.
Del. Glen Glass (R-Dist. 34A) of Aberdeen has declared he will boycott the session, which he says only should be used in time of crisis. He said expanding gambling does not qualify.
But Glass might be the only one to skip the session in protest. House GOP leadership could not confirm Monday whether others would boycott, but said some might have travel plans or work conflicts.
“People have other things scheduled,” O’Donnell said. “Each member is going to have to make their [own] decision.”
No Republican senators have publicly said they will boycott the session.
State analysts say expanding gambling could generate as much as $223 million per year for the state’s Education Trust Fund.
MGM Resorts International has agreed to develop an $800 million destination resort and casino at the waterfront National Harbor facility in Oxon Hill that it estimates will create as many as 4,000 permanent jobs.