Monday is Game Day for D.C. United in Md. House
The D.C. United stadium study bill is facing an exceedingly tough battle in the Maryland General Assembly.
On Saturday, the House Appropriations held a lengthy discussion of the bill, which would authorize the Maryland Stadium Authority, Prince George's, the team and Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission to study the costs, benefits and feasibility of a stadium, up to performing 10 percent of stadium design work.
The committee ultimately agreed to table the item until Monday morning. Members of the committee appeared skeptical, repeatedly seeking reassurance from sponsor Del. Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George's) that the bill would not obligate the state to any new spending or to ultimately building a stadium. She told them it would not.
Griffith is hoping to get the bill out of the House before the end of Monday, which is the crossover deadline for this year's legislative session. That's the last days bills approved by one chamber are guaranteed a hearing by the the other chamber.
But at this point, meeting the deadline would take herculean effort for the bill, even if there were no opposition. That's because if the appropriations committee gives the bill a favorable report Monday morning, the full House would still have to take up the matter twice before the end of the day to give it final passage.
The bill would have to be given its second reading early in what is expected to be a marathon session that begins at 3:30 p.m. Assuming the bill cleared second reading, the House would have to return to the issue before it adjourned for the night for a third and final debate. In between, it will be dealing with hundreds of other bills, some of deeply controversial and time consuming. It's not impossible, but it's not altogether likely.
One interesting question to watch--if Appropriations were to allow the bill out of committee, how would Prince George's delegates vote on the floor? Griffith, who chairs the delegation, has not asked the group to take a position on the issue. Delegations often take positions on measures that directly affect their locality. Griffith told the committee there was no need in this case, since the bill has statewide implications and would not result in a new project nor obligate the county to new spending.
Still, Committee Chairman Norman H Conway (D-Wicomico) opened the session by saying he had been concerned about whether the bill had local support. He noted that a majority of the County Council voted Tuesday to oppose the bill. But he said he spoke to Council Chairwoman Marilyn Bland, a bill supporter, on Saturday morning, and she assured him that the council was likely to be taking a different position on Tuesday, when it will hold a final vote on the issue.
"The council chair advised me that they will be meeting again this Tuesday and it was her hope that there would be a reversal of what was originally said," Conway said. "Her indication--she didn't say for sure--but her indication was that there would probably be support for it from the County Council."
March 29, 2009; 11:38 AM ET
Categories: General Assembly , Prince George's County , Rosalind Helderman
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