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Nonprofit gaming law goes into effect with little fanfare

A new law that goes into effect today opens up gaming for nonprofits in Carroll County, but don't expect to see casino nights for a cause here until at least early 2016.

The law allows Carroll fire companies, nonprofits, hospitals and veterans organizations to hold up to four casino-style gaming nights per year, but so far none have been scheduled.

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County Administrator Roberta Windham said the applications have been available since the end of July but only one organization has applied so far.

Rotary Club of Westminster Secretary James Lightner said the club filed a gaming application to have a fundraiser on Oct. 24 but decided to reschedule the event until early next year.

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"There were too many things going on around that time. We postponed the event until January," Lightner said.

Carroll's volunteer fire companies, among the most vocal proponents of allowing the casino-style fundraisers, didn't put any of these gaming night events on their schedules for 2015 because of issues getting the proposed bill through the Maryland General Assembly during previous legislative sessions.

"We have nothing planned for this year [because] we weren't sure it was going to go through," Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Doug Alexander said. "We didn't want to schedule something for this year and have it fail."

Next year, he said, might be a different story.

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"We'll start thinking about fundraising events during the first of the year and we'll see," Alexander said.

Neal Roop, mayor of New Windsor and administrative assistant for Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association, echoed Alexander's statements.

"It's still new to people. I think we'll see more in fall and winter [of 2016]," Roop said.

"I'm sure we'll find a way to schedule something," Gamber & Community Fire Company spokesman Bruce Bouch said. "Any way we can bring more funds into our community, we'll do it."

Carroll County Commissioner Steve Wantz, R-District 1, who is also a past president of the CCVESA and a volunteer at the Pleasant Valley fire company, said there is some genuine interest in casino gaming nights.

"We worked so hard to make sure it became a reality," Wantz said. "I think folks are just going to take it easy and schedule events around the current things they do. They may want to see the first couple that come out of the gate and gauge the success of those."

According to the legislation, players will pay a flat entrance fee for gaming chips to be used at the event that will then be exchanged for prizes not to exceed $10,000. An organization will be able to obtain a permit for four casino gaming nights per calendar year. The events cannot last longer than 24 hours nor run later than 1 a.m. on a Sunday.

"I think it's a little bit of a challenge because cash prizes are not involved, but it's something different and sorely needed," Wantz said. "I would suspect as we get to the first of the year, we'll see more."

According to the legislation, an organization that holds a gaming night will be required to make a financial report to the county Board of Commissioners within 60 days of the event that will include the name, address and Social Security number of any person declared the winner of a casino event for tax purposes, Wantz said.

The legislation also mandates that the organization that obtains a permit for a casino gaming night either host and operate the event themselves, or bring in another nonprofit to operate the card tables and roulette wheels.

410-857-7873

Opioid antidote now easier to get in Maryland

BALTIMORE — Baltimore's health commissioner said she will issue an order that will allow pharmacists to give an antidote to opioids without a doctor's prescription.

Dr. Leana Wen said she will issue the standing order todayon Thursday, Oct. 1, the same day a new law takes effect in Maryland that lets doctors at health departments write a blanket prescription that covers anyone who is trained on how to administer the drug.

Previously, patients would have to make an appointment to get a prescription from a doctor for naloxone, which counteracts heroin overdoses, when they were trained how to use it. Wen said that last year, 303 people in Baltimore died from overdoses.

Wen said that with her standing order, a person will be able to show a pharmacist a card indicating they had receive certified training.

— Associated Press

New laws on speed limits, criminal records, more

ANNAPOLIS — New laws approved in Maryland's last legislative session take effect Thursday, Oct. 1. Here are some things to know about them:

Second chance: People with certain nonviolent misdemeanor criminal records will have their records blocked from public view under certain conditions after three years. The law is aimed at helping people with criminal records get jobs. It applies to people who have served their sentences, including probation and parole, and who have maintained clean records.

Speed limit: State highway officials will be able to increase the state's speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on specified highways.

Anayah's Law: Maryland social service agencies will be able to keep children in foster care if there is severe abuse by biological parents or if parents do not protect their children from serious mistreatment. The law is named for Anayah Williams, a 21-month-old Frederick girl who officials say died in a beating by her father after she was returned to her parents under a federal law that generally requires state social service agencies to try to reunite families.

Divorce law: Couples in failing marriages won't be required to have a one-year separation to get a divorce, if they do not have any minor children in common and reach a settlement agreement that resolves all issues related to a dissolved marriage, such as alimony and distribution of property.

Information act: An update to the Maryland Public Information Act takes effect. A five-member compliance board will address fee disputes, and an ombudsman will handle disagreements between government agencies and members of the public attempting to access records.

Criminal expungement: People can file petitions to have crimes expunged from their records if the act on which the conviction was based is no longer a crime.

Yellow alert: The Maryland State Police will be required to develop an alert program to find missing drivers in hit-and-run incidents that result in serious injury.

Handgun identification: The state is repealing a requirement for handgun manufacturers to provide gun dealers with shell casings of bullets fired from handguns.

Correctional officers and polygraphs: Maryland correctional officer applicants will be required to pass a polygraph exam.

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Intern protection: State prohibitions against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace will be extended to interns.

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— Associated Press

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