Senate kills slot machines in Harford
The Maryland Senate, apparently convinced that slot machines could lead to corruption, has voted 25-22 to kill a bill that would have allowed Harford County civic groups to install the gambling devices in clubs.
The measure was sought by Harford's two senators, John Amoss and Habern Freeman, in an attempt to raise money for charity and the county's volunteer fire departments. The bill would have required that 50 percent of gross receipts from the slots to go to charity.
However, opponents reminded the Senate of Maryland's long and troubled history with slot machines.
Slot machines were once legal in restaurants and bars in four Southern Maryland counties, but were outlawed in these spots in 1962. They are now allowed in private fraternal and charitable clubs in all Eastern Shore counties except Worcester. Responding to opposition from Ocean City officials, a House committee this year killed a bill allowing clubs in Worcester County to use slot machines to raise money.
Opposition to the Harford County bill was led by Sen. John A. Cade, R-Anne Arundel, who said allowing slots on the Western Shore "will inevitably led to corruption." He said that when slots were legal in his county their distribution was controlled by "barons" who "bought and sold politicians like bananas."
The Senate also has given final approval to a bill that would require health-insurance policies to list mammograms as a benefit. Mammograms are X-rays designed to detect breast cancer. The House already has approved a similar bill.
Maryland has the nation's 10th highest rate of breast cancer for women ages 50 to 70, with 300 women dying of breast cancer each year and an additional 3,000 being diagnosed with the disease.
BAN ON CHILD PORN
The Senate also gave unanimous approval to a bill that would make it illegal for anyone to possess child pornography in Maryland. The bill allows law-enforcement agencies to seize any property purchased with profits earned selling child pornography.
The measure now goes to the House Judiciary Committee, which has traditionally killed legislation outlawing possession of such materials.
BODY TALK BILL OK'D
A General Assembly bill that aims to make life difficult for the owner of Body Talk, a striptease club in Baltimore County's Rockdale area, has been sent to the governor to be signed into law.
The emergency measure, which would forbid people from taking alcoholic beverages into a club that features nude dancing, has been declared constitutional by Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.
"The statute does not bar nude dancing," Curran wrote in a five-page letter to Gov. William Donald Schaefer that was released to the press yesterday, "but simply bars the consumption of alcohol where nude dancing is performed."
Body Talk opened last spring in a former pool hall in the 8100 block of Liberty Road as a private night club featuring nude dancers. It has since reverted to a pool hall that features nude girls, some of whom dance and some of whom rack the billiard balls for customers.
MEMORIAL DAY CHANGE
The House of Delegates yesterday approved a bill that would return the state Memorial Day celebration to May 30. The state now celebrates the holiday on the same day as the federal government.
Supporters argued that the state should return to May 30 for historical reasons. The state celebrated the holiday on that day for decades until changing it four years ago to coincide with the federal holiday, the fourth Monday in May.
The bill, sponsored by Del. Rosa Lee Blumenthal, D-Prince George's, passed the House 90-42 and now goes to the Senate.