The Washington Post

Maryland looking at two special sessions

Update, 12:30 p.m.:


Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley hands a pen to a supporter a bill signing in March. (Patrick Semansky — Associated Press)

“I think that both issues deserve a hearing and some resolution,” O’Malley said. “What made this session very disappointing and frustrating by the end was considering both of those issues at the same time.”

Original post:

Maryland leaders are looking at the possibility of holding two special sessions of the legislature in coming months: one devoted to a revenue package, the other on gambling legislation.

That notion emerged following a breakfast meeting Tuesday between Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and the two presiding officers of the legislature.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said lawmakers could return in mid-May for a special session to pass a revenue package similar to the one that collapsed in the final hours of the General Assembly’s 90-day session.

State House aides said O’Malley also floated the idea of a second special session devoted to a possible gambling expansion. A bill that died on the session’s final day called for a statewide referendum on allowing a Prince George’s County casino and Las Vegas-style table games at the state’s five existing slots venues.

That bill was strongly backed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert).

“Everyone agreed the primary concern is the budget,” Busch said after the morning meeting at the governor’s mansion.

The inaction of a tax package during the regular session triggered more than $500 million in cuts to education and other planned spending that will take effect in July if lawmakers do not reconvene before then.

O’Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese confirmed that a possible gambling expansion was discussed during the meeting but would not provide details.

State House aides said a second special session, likely this summer, would allow time for a consultant study assessing the impact a Prince George’s casino might have on existing locations.

During the regular session, the Senate passed a bill authorizing a full-fledged casino, likely at National Harbor. The legislation also attempted to compensate other casino owners by increasing the share of slots proceeds they would be allowed to keep and allowing them to have table games.

House leaders have suggested the numbers in the Senate bill need more study.

Miller declined to speak to reporters as he departed the State House. O’Malley headed directly to Baltimore, where he was scheduled to address the Maryland State Board of Education.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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