State Sen. Howard A. Denis (R-Montgomery) launched a one-man effort today to kill the bill that would extend a $22 million bond issue for renovating Baltimore's baseball and football stadium. He appeared to have a good chance of succeeding.
Denis said he would filibuster the bill. "I can talk for days if I have to," he said, adding: "I hate this bill. I think it's inappropriate legislation and I'm not going to make any deals. I want it killed."
The response of the legislature's leadership today was to postpone consideration of the measure, which would extend for a year the deadline for selling the bonds to benefit Memorial Stadium, home of the baseball Orioles and football Colts.
If Denis remains adamant, he could force the death of the bill or bring the work of the 1982 General Assembly, due to adjourn next Monday, to a standstill in its final days.
Denis was one of seven senators who threatened to filibuster the bill on Tuesday but was the only one left after Baltimore legislators made a deal with the other six to kill four other pieces of legislation in return for their promise not to filibuster.
Those four bills, all of which had been opposed by big business, were killed by the Senate Budget and Tax Committee today. Two of them, which would "decouple" Maryland's tax laws from federal statutes that were changed as part of the Reagan administration's plan to benefit businesses, were referred to summer study. A third, which would have prevented oil companies from claiming tax losses when they drill a dry hole, was killed and the most controversial, a tax on oil companies' windfall profits, died by a 7-to-6 vote.
According to committee chairman Laurence Levitan (D-Montgomery) the two decoupling bills probably would have died anyway because they were poorly drafted.
The bonds for stadium renovation were authorized two years ago. They have never been sold because Baltimore Colts owner Robert Irsay has refused to sign a long-term stadium lease. With the deadline for selling the bonds approaching, Hughes, who has met three times with Irsay and Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer to work out a compromise, is trying to get a one year extension through the legislature.
Montgomery Sen. Victor L. Crawford (D) suggested today that Denis be allowed to begin his filibuster. Crawford pointed to the recent truce between his county and the the Baltimore legislators, which had been feuding. "This is important legislation for the city and, with the exception of my colleague Denis , I know Montgomery County support for the stadium bill is complete," he said. "The sooner we start, the sooner we can end it. Remember, this is the era of detente."