Pit bull owners and other animal advocates won't get a chance to overturn a recent Court of Appeals decision labeling the breed as dangerous during the special General Assembly session now under way, but they might get their chance if the legislature reconvenes this summer to consider gambling issues.
Senate PresidentThomas V. Mike Millerindicated that he's amenable to putting the issue on the agenda and encouraged people who want action before next January to make their views known to Gov.Martin O'Malley.
"The governor hears you," Miller said. He said most senators have received dozens of calls about the issue.
Miller also asked the Judicial Proceedings Committee to meet to consider the issue in the coming months. Sen. Lisa Gladden, a Baltimore Democrat who is vice chairwoman of the committee, said the panel plans to hear from experts in the field. She said the panel does not plan to seek testimony from the public while the issue is in summer study.
The Senate president's encouraging words came a few hours before pit bull supporters rallied outside the State House Tuesday afternoon to demand action to protect pit bull owners from the additional legal liability they could face under the court ruling. The rally drew more people to Lawyers Mall than an anti-tax rally at the same location Monday night.
Legislators of both parties addressed the crowd, urging them to contact the the governor and lawmakers to press for quick action to invalidate the court rling.
"This is without a doubt breed discrimination," said Sen. J. B. Jennings, a Republican who represents Baltimore and Harford counties.
O'Malley has said he is prepared to call a second special session on gambling in late summer if the House and Senate can reach a consensus on the issue. The current session has been limited to budget-related issues.
Raquel Guillory, the governor's press secretary, said O'Malley's office has been receiving many calls and messages about the issue but has no plans to take action.
"It's not going to be our agenda item," she said. But Guillory added that if Miller and Speaker Michael E. Busch were to decide to take up the issue in a special session, the governor would consider whatever legislation was sent to his desk.