Busch: People Can Make Up Own Minds On Slots
During the previous administration, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) was repeatedly demonized or canonized -- depending on one's perspective -- for keeping slot machines out of Maryland. Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich (R) was among his harshest critics.
But with just a week to go before voters decide the issue, the Speaker has been remarkably quiet on it, as pro- and anti-slots forces trade blows over a plan backed by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) that would authorize up to 15,000 machines.
"I'm going to vote against the referendum personally, but I believe everyone can make that decision," Busch said in an interview. "I think people can make up their own minds."
Busch supported the idea of putting the issue on the ballot during last year's special session. That, he said, was intended as a compromise on an issue that had long dominated debate in the General Assembly.
As a presiding officer in the legislature, Busch said he feels it will be his job to bring people on both sides of the debate back together after the Nov. 4 vote to tackle some very tough budget challenges -- regardless of whether slots passes or fails.
"When we finish this thing, I hope to be able to move on," Busch said.
Busch said there are some apsects to the plan on the ballot that make it better than previous legislation attempting to legalize slots. Any additional expansion of gambling, for example, will have to be put to the voters again.
"It's a very high hurdle to go back and expand it," Busch said.
Busch said that he has always thought the results of the referendum would be close but acknowledged broader economic concerns that seem to have given pro-slots forces a boost in recent polling.
"I very well might be in the minority, but I'll respect the majority will of the people of Maryland," Busch said.
October 27, 2008; 12:42 PM ET
Categories: John Wagner , Slots
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