Winners and Losers
A few winners and losers in Maryland politics over the last week:
Montgomery County Ride-On customers: Following a public outcry, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) decided to restore six of nine Ride-On bus routes that had been scheduled for elimination as part of his budget cutting plan. This follows his earlier decision -- again, under pressure from residents -- to restore free county bus service for school students. The reversals indicate how hard it will be for Leggett to find politically palatable savings as he tries to close a projected $297 million budget shortfall.
National Harbor: Developers and lawmakers finally seem headed to an agreement on a liquor license for Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, the 2,000-room hotel that will anchor the National Harbor development in Prince George's County. A bill moving through the General Assembly would create a new class of liquor license for convention center hotels with at least 1,500 rooms in Prince George's County, charging $20,000 each year for the license. Passage of the legislation, written with the approval of Gaylord executives, would end a political struggle over the resort's liquor license that had landed briefly in court because Gaylord was worried that it would not get a liquor license in time for the April opening of the hotel.
Southern Maryland nonprofit organizations: The Washington Post reported last week that nonprofits have been setting up slot-like video gaming devices in St. Mary's County and elsewhere at a rapid rate -- just months before voters decide whether to allow real slot machines at five venues around the state. Immediately, Comptroller Peter Franchot announced his office would send out audit teams to make sure the operators were paying the proper taxes. And leaders of the Maryland General Assembly filed emergency legislation to ban the devices, which they said threaten the state lottery.
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