MD Attorney General says current PG slots bill is unconstitutional

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Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, and other progressive county officials, who have long opposed bringing slots to Prince George’s County thought they had a way around their former opposition, put the issue to the voters and make the decision on their backs. Problem is that the bill would require a vote of voters across the state, and no one likes the possibility of an amendment that might have broad statewide support, but not much locally bringing slots into the county.  To soften that opposition Senator Douglas JJ Peters of Bowie and Delegate Barbara Frush of Laurel included language in their bills that the constitutional amendment would only pass, if a majority of voters in the county supported it at the ballot box, regardless of the statewide numbers. It seemed to win over a few (very few) people, until Doug Gansler got involved.

In an Attorney General opinion, requested by Delegate Aisha Braveboy (D-25), Assistant Attorney General Bonnie Kirkland wrote “” The portion of the opinion that says constitutionally impermissible is lawyer talk for being unconstitutional or illegal, an opinion County Councilman Eric Olson rendered weeks ago when the matter was before the council.

To read the entire AG Advisory Opinion on Gaming Bill opinion click here.

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2 thoughts on “MD Attorney General says current PG slots bill is unconstitutional

  1. What’s to prevent amendment to exclude consideration of popular sentiment in the County? Gansler have just provided the excuse/cover that risk-averse slots supporters in the Assembly were quietly hoping for.

    Plus, I gather County voters approved the last slots referendum by margins higher than any other county, even if the question was somewhat different.

    I worry that this opinion could have consequences that far exceed the slots question. It would seem to reduce the chance any future state referendum—even if targeted toward one county—would either seek or require the ascent of a majority of voters in that county. For Prince George’s—but not only Prince George’s—that could have far-reaching consequences.

    Not a lawyer, though, so corrections are welcome.

  2. PS: My comment presupposes the AG’s opinion is a precedent, which may well be wrong. But the larger point remains: this doesn’t seem like a win for slots opponents, even if they unwisely sought it.

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