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January 31, 2011

Pipkin wants slots out of the MD Constitution

Sen. E.J. Pipkin, the new senate minority whip, said this morning at a University of Maryland panel that he will introduce legislation this year to remove the state's gaming program from Maryland's constitution.

The change could make it easier for additional counties to build casinos. It could also ease the way for table games like poker or roulette and streamline the process for increasing the number of slots machines. Such modifications must currently be approved by voter referendum -- that only happens every other year.

Pipkin, a Republican from the Eastern Shore, says the current gaming framework puts Maryland at a competitive disadvantage with surrounding states. Some lawmakers want to add gaming in Prince George's County as a way to enhance the profitability of Rosecroft Raceway, and are frustrated that the process will take two years. Penn National, a gaming powerhouse that already owns one of Maryland's casinos, just bought the track.

Pipkin said that he's still drafting the legislation -- and the voters would likely need to approve it via referendum. The next statewide ballot is in 2012.

He spoke at the first annual political summit sponsored by the University of Maryland's Center for American Politics and Citizenship. It was attended by other state leaders who gave some hints about where General Assembly members might tweak Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget.


House Speaker Michael E. Busch noted that the governor's cuts are falling heavily on healthcare and transportation while education funding is nearly untouched. "Our transportation system is somewhat at risk," he said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller reiterated his support for a gasoline tax, though did not say how much he'd like to increase it. Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola is expected to introduce a legislative package this week that hikes the gas tax.

On transportation Pipkin floated creating a separate taxing authority for big ticket transit projects like the proposed light rail lines in Baltimore and the D.C. suburbs. "If you live in the rural areas you don't share those hopes and dreams," he said.

He characterized O'Malley's proposed cuts to the state Medicaid program as a tax on Marylanders with insurance because he predicted that hospitals will hike health costs for insured Marylanders. "It that a tax?" he asked. "Some would call it a hospital tax."

Posted by Annie Linskey at 12:18 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: 2011 legislative session


Finally someone who gets it, I don't want to drive to Atlantic city or fly to Vegas to do real's my money and I should have the right to participate in a legal activity in my own state, even if it inconveniences a few neighborhoods with extra traffic.

Since when is encouraging people to be fiscally irresponsible good government?

Other states may do whatever they like, but our Maryland should not in any way shape or form act like gambling is good.

The social costs cannot be repaired.

I am greatly disappointed at E.J. Pipkin for trying to solve our fiscal problems with such a despicable behavior pattern as gambling.

The only answer to our spending woes is to stop spending. Maybe start with cutting 25% of salary off every bureaucrat who makes over one hundred grand a year.

What do you expect from a junk bond salesman!

Yes, Sen Pipkin "gets it." The ONLY reason the matter was put on the ballot to put it in the Constitution is because the General Assembly did not have the guts/cohannas to deal with the problem.
The legislators ran as fast as they could away from having to make the decision(s) themselves. Don't we elect them to make decisions? Duh! Why did they turn the gaming decisions over to the public for a referendum? No guts. Where has this gotten us? In order to make ANY changes they must be approved by the voters as changes in the State Constitution. That's not what the Constitution is for.
Legislators should legislate matters like this. They didn't and (unless we take this out of the Constitution in 2012) we are stuck with this morass. [I will not make a pun on the word "morass."]
Can you say "Good job" to the General Assembly? NO Way. Sen. Pitkin is only making sense & I won't judge him as "a junk bobd salesman."

Sen. E.J. Pipkin does make sense. Maryland, just like every other state in the union, must balance their budget. Cuts alone are not going to be enough, and I agree with Pipkin, cutting the State's Medicaid Program is a new tax; hospitals need money to operate, and they will get the costs from someone else.

As far as table gaming goes; Marylanders are going to gamble regardless of whether or not we allow table gambling in the state. The majority of people who play at Charles Town WV are from Maryland. A good portion of people who play at Delaware Park are from Maryland.

The reason why States like Delaware, and West VA pushed for table gaming is because they knew that they could attract wealthy individuals from Maryland to generate revenue. Maryland's economy is very different than most other states in the fact that we don't have a large Manufacturing base like Ohio and Pennsylvania. We have a large White-Collar work force; which means that we have a lot of Bedroom Communities.

We need to diversify the type of income we bring in. By allowing table game to be played, and taking this legislation out of the State Constitution, we will create jobs, increase the state's revenue, and not face hard decisions like cutting medicaid.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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