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Senate passes gambling expansion bill

The Maryland Senate passed Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gambling expansion bill on a 28-14 vote Friday, sending the legislation to a more closely divided House of Delegates for a decision when the the General Assembly’s special session continues into a second week Monday.

Approval came in the early evening after senators spent much of the afternoon debating and defeating amendments proposed by Republicans and a conservative Democrat opponent of the key provision allowing a casino in Prince George’s County.

Few of the votes were close, and most amendments failed by about a 3-1 margin as Senate PresidentThomas V. Mike Millerflexed his political muscle to pass the bill, which also permits table games at the Prince George’s site and the state’s five already-licensed sites. Five senators were absent.

Hearings on the bill in the House Ways and Means Committee continued into the evening. House members are expected to work on  amendments over the weekend, and the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on the bill Monday. The full House convenes at 10 a.m. Monday for introduction of the Senate bill.

Senators also passed legislation creating a strict liability standard for dog owners whose pets bite people without provocation – eliminating a common law standard allowing a dog not previously known to be vicious one free bite. The bill overturns a Court of Appeals ruling that imposed strict liability standards only on pit bulls.

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