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Letter: Del. Turner defends vote in favor of expanded gambling

12:11 PM EDT, October 2, 2012

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I have voted my conscience on most legislation throughout the years I have served in Annapolis. For example, I voted against deregulation of our utilities, against giving the Marriott Corp. $44 million to stay in Maryland, against the returning of $1 billion surplus and then passing a $1.3 billion Thornton enhancement bill for education, against the Inter County Connector that was scheduled to cost $7.50 one way from Laurel to Gaithersburg and which has driven up tolls throughout Maryland and created a $1.3 billion bond obligation for the state, against turning Blue Cross-Blue Shield into a for-profit company and on and on. I will continue my independent positions as I evaluate each bill on its merits.

Had I not been chairperson of the Subcommittee on Gaming and the floor leader that had to defend the bill (to expand gambling in Maryland) for over six hours and fight off over 50 amendments, I would have voted against the bill. I have never seen a subcommittee chair, in the 18 years of my service, defend a bill on the floor and then vote against the bill.

We have all been confronted with situations in the workplace that we do not agree. That does not mean we abrogate our responsibility and walk away. I did not create this system nor do I wish to create total chaos by doing something that would make me totally ineffective in the future as a legislator. We must choose our battles wisely. Every year bills are submitted to expand gaming. I have killed bills to expand gaming in bars, the airport, in various counties, firehouses, adding a new casino in Charles County and Frederick County and much more. I am not trying to turn Maryland into the Las Vegas of the East.

Finally, had the bill failed, the Senate leadership would have blamed the House for contributing to the projected revenue structural deficit by not passing SB1. Ultimately, the voters of Maryland will have the final say this November as to whether or not they wish to expand gaming in Maryland.

I must choose my battles wisely, remain relevant, and not fight on every occasion.

Frank S. Turner

State delegate, District 13