ANNAPOLIS – More than 20 members of Maryland’s House Republican Caucus stood together Wednesday to officially oppose casino gambling in the state.
At a press conference, caucus members said there is almost no Republican support in the House of Delegates for a casino gambling measure.
“If casino gambling passes in the General Assembly, it will be with little or no Republican votes,” said House Minority Leader Robert Kittleman, R-Howard.
Kittleman said that a straw vote showed that none of the 41 caucus members planned to vote for casino gambling in the 1996 legislative session.
“I believe we should pull the plug on the casino gambling machine before it gets going in earnest,” Kittleman said.
The “corrosive effect to society,” with higher crime rates, potential for corruption and more compulsive gamblers, was one reason caucus members mentioned behind their opposition. They also noted that overwhelming public sentiment had led at least eight counties to ban casinos.
The GOP caucus rejected the argument that casinos would bring in more business. “These things act like coccoons,” said Minority Whip Richard LaVay, R-Montgomery. “They end driving out as many jobs as they bring in.”
Del. Janet Greenip, R-Anne Arundel, who attended three hearings by the Tyding Commission, Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s special study panel on the subject, said the public opposition was loud and well-organized. “At the first meeting, they had to go out and find people in favor so that they could give equal time,” Greenip said.
Greenip said the House Ways and Means Committee “probably doesn’t have the votes” to pass a casino gambling measure. Committee Chairwoman Sheila Ellis Hixson, D-Montgomery, sponsored the casino gambling bills that were defeated in the last session.
Nor would the House Judiciary Committee have the votes, said member Nancy Jacobs, R-Harford.
The two committees would be responsible for considering such measures prior to debate in the full House. Greenip said that the caucus’ announcement may help defeat any casino gambling proposals. “Whether or not it can get out of a committee may not be an issue,” she said. “We hope it never makes it into a committee.” -30-