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Law Experts Differ on Opinion Regarding Slots Vote

On December 17th, 2007, the attorneys for Maryland's Republican legislative officials and the office of the Attorney General are set to go head to head in a Westminster courtroom over the GOP's attempt to invalidate the work of last month's General Assembly special session.

Two legal scholars who have reviewed the pleading for the Republicans made by lawyer Irwin Kramer, an Owings Mills Democrat, find that the arguments for dismissing the tax increases because they are violations of the state's constitution are not enough. But the experts differ on whether the slots vote is the kind of revenue measure that cannot put into the ballot.

Dan Friedman, a Saul Ewing lawyer, who wrote the reference guide to the Maryland Constitution, said that what they could not win in the political arena, they are trying to win in the procedural issues. The lawsuit of the Republicans makes two arguments. The first argument is on the provision of the state constitution that states that neither the House nor the Senate can stop during their session for about three days without the permission of the other.

The Senate did this in early November as it waited for the House to act on the proposal it had passed. A professor at the University of Baltimore Law School, Byron Warnken, does not see as much as breathing room in the constitution and thinks there was some form of violation. But Warnken said that framers were mum about what to do if one house breaks this important provision.

Friedman said that even if there was some form of violation, voiding the laws that have been passed is a bad option especially because there was no legislative paralysis that the provision in the constitution was aiming to prevent. The senate eventually went back into session and both houses passed the legislation.

Both Warnken and Friedman said that there is absolutely no reason the laws should be change. Another argument is that the constitutional amendment to allow slot machine gaming is linked to bill on how the profit is to be used. Whatever decision Circuit Court Judge Thomas Stansfield makes for TRO's and injunctions blocking the laws, his decision is likely to be challenged.


Wednesday, 26 December 2007
Caroline Mitchell