Residents of Prince George’s continued to be at the mercy of the Maryland General Assembly as Gov. Martin O’Malley and leaders of both the Senate and House of Delegates have commissioned a work group to decide whether or not to place a casino in the county.

“It became evident in the 2012 legislative session that the issue of gaming should be examined in more detail,” O’Malley said. “We are pleased to announce the members of this work group to consider the issue of gaming in our State. We are confident that their expertise and guidance will help us move toward consensus on this issue.”

John Morton III, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, will chair the work group. He says he hopes that the group’s conclusion will bring finality to the issue.

“I am honored to serve on the Work Group to Consider Gaming Expansion,” Morton said. “Working with my fellow members, I hope that we will be able to effectively guide the governor and the members of the General Assembly toward a consensus on the issue of gaming in Maryland.”

Other members of the group include O’Malley’s Chief of Staff Matthew Gallagher, Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management T. Eloise Foster, Secretary of Appointments Joanne Hitchcock, Senior Policy and Legislative Advisor Joseph Bryce, Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, D.-Dist. 12, Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, D.-Dist. 45, Sen. Richard Madaleno, D.-Dist. 18, Del. Sheila Hixson, D.-Dist. 20, Del. Peter Hammen, D.-Dist. 46, and Del. Frank Turner, D.-Dist. 13.

The work group has no Republicans and no representation from Prince George’, although Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, D.-Dist. 23, and Del. Dereck Davis, D.-Dist. 25, who represent Prince George’s will serve as alternates.

This is a detail that has not gone unnoticed by former Del. Gerron Levi, who is spearheading a charge to keep the state’s sixth casino from being placed in Prince George’s County.

“It doesn’t look like there is any or much Prince George’s presence and this will have a traumatic impact on our jurisdiction,” Levi said.

“You have this work group that is going to make a recommendation to the General Assembly, which will be a done deal – a fait accompli and it has no representation from the jurisdiction that stands to be most affected,” she continued. “It’s an abuse of power and an abuse of the taxpayer.”

Levi went on to say that she believes that there is no reason for there to be a special session for this issue when the state could be tackling more pressing issues.
“On the outset; there’s no urgent business to be done and no reason for a special session,” she continued. “The entire process is flawed.”

The group’s first meeting will be June 1 and will have until late June to recommend legislation for the General Assembly to consider in a special session in July.

If the work group recommends a sixth casino site in Prince George’s and the general assembly enacts legislation; the issue will be left up to Maryland voters to decide in a November ballot referendum.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO