The recent Special Session convened in the Maryland General Assembly dealt with two proposed bills in which four days of debate were spent. Senate Bill II was designed as the supposed answer to the recent Maryland Court of Appeals ruling in Tracy vs. Solesky regarding pit bull dogs and Senate Bill I was the controversial expansion of a sixth casino forPrince George's County.
The Senate took what was a bad ruling in Tracy vs. Solesky and made it much worse by deciding that all dog owners would be liable for injuries to victims. This not only included injuries from a dog bite, but injuries incurred as a result of a dog's impact. For example: if a dog's activity caused you to fall down a flight of steps or off your bicycle, the pet owner is at fault. In addition, the bill did include many exceptions in cases of trespassing but the language was muddied and unclear.
I commend the House Judiciary Committee for their amazing and unanimous bi-partisan work in reshaping the Senate version. The Bill was not breed specific, did not hold owners liable so long as their dogs were on a leash or their property, service animals were protected, and owners were made liable for loose dogs only. The House of Delegates voted 127-0 for approval by the Senate and I am proud to say that I supported this Bill. Unfortunately the Senate was not so happy and did not take up the amended House version of their Bill which is now leaving dog owners, animal shelters, and tenants in limbo.
The House debate over the proposed sixth casino was fierce and endured many amendments that were mostly proposed by Republicans but unfortunately were not adopted. However, one important amendment was passed that I support which allows all American Legions and VFWs in Maryland (except for Montgomery County) to have several slot machines in their establishments. Republican Delegate Wayne Norman fought like a tiger against Democrat leadership and the sixth site. He proposed several amendments, one of which passed, that guaranteed at least one member of the gaming commission would have to be a minority. I supported him and applaud his effort.
Ultimately the final vote was very close and I am sad to say that it was passed by a margin of 71-59 with the Nays receiving unprecedented support from Democrats including my colleague Delegate Mary-Dulany James. We should applaud the Democrats that stood on their principles and refused to buckle to the pressure from their Party and Governor.
As you know, I was very negative about the special session but I chose to be there on behalf of the dog owners and the fact that I love animals. Therefore I am proud to say that I voted against the sixth casino in both the House Ways and Means Committee and on the floor of the House of Delegates.
Del. Glen Glass
District 34A and member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Gaming Subcommittee