Opinion

Examiner Local Editorial: Maryland voters should nix sixth casino

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Opinion,Local Editorial

On Nov. 6, Maryland voters will be asked to make decisions on issues directly affecting residents of Prince George's and Montgomery County. Here are two that will appear on the ballot:

Question 7 - Gaming Expansion

The Washington Examiner recommends a vote against Question 7. Maryland already has five casinos, and is surrounded by states that offer games of chance to nonresidents. This is apparently not enough. Following a months-long, knock-down, drag-out fight between pro- and anti-gambling factions, the Maryland General Assembly finally voted to expand table games and add a sixth casino in Prince George's County.

However, voter approval is needed before National Harbor becomes "Las Vegas on the Potomac." There are two main reasons why such approval should be withheld.

First, the same state lawmakers who voted to expand gambling also OK'd tax breaks for casino owners as part of the deal. As an Examiner Local Editorial noted in July, "this put Maryland Democrats in the extremely awkward position of raising taxes on taxpayers earning more than $100,000 during one special session, then turning around and slashing taxes on casino owners during another." This should not be tolerated.

Second, government's proper role is to regulate gambling enterprises, which otherwise attract criminals lured by the prospect of easy money. But when the state starts counting on gambling revenue to fund basic public services such as education, it crosses the line and becomes financially dependent on the very industry it is supposed to be overseeing. This is an inherent conflict of interest.

Montgomery County Question B: Referendum on Law Enacted by County Council Effects Bargaining for Police Employees

The Examiner recommends a vote in favor of Question B. For 30 years, the Fraternal Order of Police has been the only public employee union in Montgomery County whose contract allows it to meddle in the day-to-day operations of a county department. Police Chief Tom Manger cannot even make minor decisions regarding uniforms and equipment without getting union approval.

Led by Public Safety Committee chairman Phil Andrews, the all-Democrat County Council unanimously voted last year to end this practice. If the referendum passes, FOP will still be able to collectively bargain on issues affecting wages, benefits and working conditions, but the chief will have the final say on what should be management prerogatives, such as whether to require cops under his command to wear identifying patches on their uniforms.

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