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From the Desk of
County Commissioner Blaine Young

(3/2012) The 2012 session of the Maryland General Assembly keeps chugging along, and it appears that those of us outside of the major metropolitan areas are going to be force fed a lot of liberal policy that we probably donít want. Thatís the nature of being a conservative or a moderate in a state governed by an ultra liberal governor and a compliant legislature. It seems like we always have to put our helmets on to protect us from what comes flying our way out of Annapolis.

Of course weíve got the Governor who wants to enact seemingly every new tax he can think of since the end of last yearís session. He wants to increase the income tax, the gas tax, recordation tax, flush tax, internet tax, and he will probably think of a few more in the next couple of weeks. I donít think he is going to get his way on all of them, but he certainly will get his way on a good many, and we will have less disposable income this time next year than we do this year.

But the two things I seem to be hearing most about lately are not taxes, but are instead same-sex marriage and gambling. And I think itís very interesting to look at how our esteemed "leaders" in Annapolis propose to handle these two issues.

First, we have new gambling initiatives. The big news over the last week was that the County Executive in Prince Georgeís County, Rushern Baker, finally came out with a position concerning new proposed gambling locations for Prince Georgeís County. With its proximity to Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia, Prince Georgeís County has always been considered a sensible location for a new gambling facility, if the object is to raise revenue, which we are told is the case. Yet the last time around Prince Georgeís County was not included in the areas eligible for gambling, as there was staunch opposition there, primarily from local churches and religious groups.

Last week County Executive Baker came out forcefully in favor of a proposal to put a full blown Las Vegas style casino at the National Harbor project along the banks of the Potomac River. Many people thought that if gambling finally came to Prince Georgeís County it would be at Rosecroft Raceway, which has gone through bankruptcy proceedings and likely cannot survive without enhanced gambling. The County Executive has chosen the National Harbor, wants a billion dollar casino built, and has thrown his support behind the developers of that project.

This latest proposal has unleashed fierce opposition from the developer of what was to be the largest gambling emporium in Maryland, at Arundel Mills Mall in Anne Arundel County. This project is well under construction with opening scheduled for later this year. They say theyíve had the rug pulled out from under them, since many of their prospective customers would likely be diverted to the National Harbor project if that gets off the ground.

In any event, regardless of where the legislature wants to put new gambling facilities, the issue will come to the voters. Weíve heard a lot of talk out of Annapolis how an issue this important should be decided by the voters during a referendum. If the legislature passes a gambling bill and the Governor signs it, it will then go on the ballot for this fall and the voters will have a chance to vote it up or down.

Now there are pros and cons to taking legislation to referendum, but I think what is really interesting is to compare how the legislature is handling the gambling question with how they approach the same-sex marriage legislation. Changing thousands of years of societal custom to allow a government sanctioned legal marriage between members of the same sex is not to be entrusted to the voters. In fact, once it is finally approved and signed by the Governor (which appears to be a lock as I write this column) the supporters will do everything possible to defeat any move to take the bill to the voters.

Thatís right, gambling is so important that it should go to the voters, but same-sex marriage is so important that it should not be entrusted to the voters. That is the warped thinking of our so-called "leaders" in Annapolis.

The good news is that eventually these "leaders" also will have to answer to the voters at the polls. I'm done with hope and change so letís hope and pray we can finally do something about it next time around.

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