Local lawmakers to submit gambling measure

February 14, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County lawmakers agreed Thursday to submit legislation to amend the county's tip jar gambling law - bringing at least a partial resolution to the on-again, off-again issue.

"These (amendments) are two minor things and we'll get them out of the way," said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

The bill, which could be filed in the General Assembly early next week, will make two administrative changes to the existing law:

  • It would allow board members of nonprofit organizations to serve on the Washington County Gaming Commission. Barring nonprofit officers from serving on the gambling panel has been criticized for restricting too many community leaders from serving.

The amendment would require members to disclose whether they serve on a nonprofit board.

  • It would extend the terms of commission members from two to three years.

"It seems to address most of the concerns the gaming commission had," said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

Gaming commission Chairwoman Sue Tuckwell was pleased the delegation members decided to propose the legislation, which she had lobbied for earlier this week.

"We welcome the changes and we were very glad they were able to compromise with us," she said.

She said the changes will be a "big help" to the administration of the gaming commission, which is responsible for distributing county tip jar proceeds to charities and fire departments.

Tuckwell did not seem too concerned that the delegation decided not to support the third of the commission's proposals - to eliminate the 1999 expiration, or sunset provision, of the law.

"That's OK. They are going to have to address the sunset at some time, because it's too important to let go," she said.

Tuckwell reasoned that charities that receive tip jar proceeds will become accustomed to the money. The outcry aimed at the delegation members would be "extreme" if the law expired and the millions of dollars allotted to nonprofit groups suddenly disappeared, she said.

"They would take a lot of heat if they let this just slide," she said

Lawmakers said they were pleased that at least there is local resolution to the tip jar saga, which has dragged on for several weeks. On two separate occasions, the delegation agreed not to submit legislation, only to reconsider both times.

But McKee warned there will be work to be done as the bill moves through the legislature.

"I'm not sure yet that it is (over)," McKee said.

The Herald-Mail Articles