Md. Senate approves gambling, pit bull bills

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ANNAPOLIS — The Senate voted Friday to approve a gambling expansion bill, sending the legislation to the House where floor debate is expected to begin Monday.

The Senate voted 28-14 in favor of the bill, which would legalize table games at the state’s slots casinos and allow a new casino to be built in Prince George’s County, pending approval in a November referendum.

Senate members passed the bill after about four hours of debate Friday afternoon, during which Republicans and a few Democrats unsuccessfully proposed numerous amendments that included requiring casino developers to pay for road improvements near their facilities and posing separate ballot questions for table games and the Prince George’s casino.

The legislation — which would lower tax rates on casino owners in Anne Arundel, Worcester and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore to compensate for increased competition that would come from an added casino — will now move to the House where it will face a much tougher battle.

The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the bill Friday and is expected to vote on it Monday.

Members said they will likely to make many changes to the Senate’s version of the legislation.

The Senate also voted 41-1 on Friday to approve a bill that would make dog owners liable from the first time their dog attacks another person, replacing the current law that only makes them liable if the animal has shown previous aggressive behavior.

The legislation was crafted in response to an April Court of Appeals ruling that classified pit bulls as “inherently dangerous,” making their owners and landlords liable for an attack even if the dog has no prior incidents.

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill Friday, and is expected to pass its version of the legislation on Monday.

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