ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The president of the Maryland Senate is planning a quick start for next week's special session to expand gambling, and is urging senators to drive home in the evenings to save money if they don't live too far away.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert, outlined scheduling plans for the first two days of the session in a memo to senators on Friday, when Gov. Martin O'Malley announced he would be calling a special session to begin next Thursday.
Miller wrote that the Senate will convene at 11:30 a.m. that day. After a bill is officially introduced, the Senate will adjourn to allow a hearing in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, which will vote on the bill, the president wrote.
The next day, Miller is anticipating the Senate will reconvene at 10 a.m. to consider amendments before voting the measure over to the House of Delegates, where gambling measures have been harder to pass.
Miller wrote that he anticipates legislation will be similar to recommendations made by a work group on gambling that was unable to reach a consensus in June. Miller noted he believes the measure will not be significantly different from legislation that passed in the Senate during the regular session in April, but failed to pass the House.
The Senate president also wrote that he hopes to complete work as efficiently as possible to avoid any excess days and increased expenses.
"In that regard, to reduce expenses in the Special Session, we encourage members to travel home in the evenings if it is reasonable to do so," Miller wrote. "Approval for lodging will be decided on a case by case basis with priority given to members who must travel a significant distance."
Lawmakers will be considering whether to allow table games such as blackjack and a new casino site in Prince George's County, along with a variety of other potential changes relating to gambling in the state, which currently allows five casino sites with only slot machines.
Voters would decide whether approve the proposed gambling expansion in November.
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