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Legislative Leaders Upbeat About Session's End

Democratic leaders of the Maryland General Assembly emerged from a meeting this morning with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) optimistic about the prospects of a bringing their special session to a close by this weekend.

"It was very positive," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said of the breakfast meeting at the governor's mansion, which was attended by about 10 lawmakers. "Everybody's upbeat. Things are on target. ... With a little bit of luck, we can have this process wrapped up by late Friday night."

The session, called by O'Malley to close a budget shortfall of at least $1.5 billion, is now in its third week.

The most immediate hurdle is passage of a slots bill on the House floor. House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said leaders of his chamber are still trying to secure the needed three-fifth majority to pass legislation that would allow voters to decide whether to place 15,000 slot machines at five locations in Maryland. Votes are expected tomorrow.

"Obviously, we're trying to get to 85 votes and give people a determination at the polls in November," Busch said.

Miller said Senate and House leaders will start informally trying to reconcile differences today between bills the chambers have passed that raise taxes by $1.4 billion annually and direct O'Malley to cut roughly $500 million from the state budget next year.

O'Malley smiled at reporters as they walked from the mansion to the State House but did not take questions.

Join me at 1 p.m. today for a live chat on the session.

Full full session coverage, see the Post's Maryland Special Session page.

By John Wagner  |  November 14, 2007; 9:41 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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