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Maryland Politics
Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 06/23/2012

O’Malley, Busch meet privately on casino standoff


Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, left, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch at a bill signing ceremony last month. (AP photo/Cliff Owen)
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) talked privately Friday night about Maryland’s gambling impasse but reported no significant progress.

People familiar with the conversation, which lasted about 45 minutes, described it as cordial but not productive enough to prompt the announcement in the next couple of days of a special legislative session on expanding gambling.

Neither O’Malley nor Busch commented to reporters after the meeting, which took place in the governor’s office.

O’Malley has said he wants to hold a special session the week of July 9, but a work group he set up recommended against that on Wednesday after members were unable to reach consensus on issues related to a proposed Prince George’s County casino and tax rates on casino operators.

Eight members of the work group — including five O’Malley appointees and three state senators — agreed to a plan that would allow a Prince George's casino and lower tax rates for at least some other venues to compensate for the additional competition.

The plan would also allow Las Vegas-style table games at Maryland’s five existing slots sites.

The three House members on the work group, all appointed by Busch, dissented, saying they would only support a Prince George’s casino if the state’s existing tax rate stayed in place. The dissent was a strong indication that legislation lacked support in the House, prompting the work group’s recommendation against a special session.

On Thursday, both Busch and O’Malley indicated a willingness to keep talking about the issue. After Friday’s meeting, aides to O’Malley indicated he had not ruled out calling a special session but gave no sign that is likely or imminent.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who did not participate in Friday’s meeting, has been a vocal proponent of a Prince George’s casino.

By  |  11:54 AM ET, 06/23/2012

 
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