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Voices From The House Slots Debate

A bill authorizing Maryland to hold a referendum next year on legalizing slot machine gambling squeaked by the House of Delegates yesterday, clearing by one vote the supermajority of 85 it needed to pass. The 86-52 vote was preceded by almost two hours of testimony from delegates debating one of the most emotional issues of their legislative careers. Below are some voices from the debate:

"I do not apologize for standing up for what I believe...This is a way to put principles and convictions behind us. It's a transparent Trojan horse to bring slots in by the back door. ..Maryland is a huge market for organized gambling. They want to pry it open like an oyster and shuck it."
-Del. Luiz Simmons (D-Montgomery) (voted no)

"It will not surprise you to know that I'm going to talk about the budget, which is what this bill is all about. We're not just fixing the deficit. We're doing more than that. Which program are you going to cut when the $650 million [from slots] is cut out of the program?"
--Del. Murray D. Levy (D-Charles) (voted yes)

"There is a lot of money to be had in this industry and it can buy undue influence."
--Del. Gail H. Bates (R-Howard) (voted no)

"This bill will have a name on it: Thou shalt be heard. The voters shall be heard. As a legislator, I want to know what the people think. The votes should be heard."
--Del. Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. (D-Prince George's) (voted yes)

"We are going to enshrine in the constitution of Maryland who gets to be a billionaire. That is a lot different than just saying up or down on slots. Many of us in the Republican caucus do support slots. We support the right bill."
--Del. Christopher B. Shank (R-Washington), minority whip (voted no)

"We're not punting on this issue. What we've decided is that we're at an impasse and the only way we can move forward is by putting it to the citizens. I will oppose it at the ballot box but support it now."
--Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George's) (voted yes)

By Anne Bartlett  |  November 17, 2007; 6:05 AM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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Next: House Roll Call on Slots Referendum

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