CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Gov. Hogan, Legislative Leaders Sign Gambling Bill, Repeal State Song

Sports betting. Carryout and delivery of alcohol. College athletes to earn money from endorsements.

Those count as just three of the more than 200 bills Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law Tuesday in Annapolis.

“We’re also repealing the state song,” Hogan said. “It’s a relic of the confederacy that is clearly outdated and out of touch.”

Lawmakers endured one of the hardest 90-day legislative sessions in recent history, especially amidst a coronavirus pandemic which state health and local officials continue to battle.

The high-profile legislation to legalize sports gambling allows in-person betting at the state’s six casinos, permits up to 60 mobile and online betting licenses and a commission to annually assess the sports wagering industry so minority and women-owned businesses remain part of the process.

Financial projections estimate sports betting revenue in Maryland could generate between $15 million to $20 million annually. Lawmakers say they’re hopeful some gambling could begin when the NFL season begins in September.

Some of the other bills signed by the Republican governor include: prohibiting a student on public school property if registered as a sex offender; expansion of mental health and behavioral training for veterans; and expand for up to two years for bars and restaurants to provide carryout and delivery of alcohol to help those businesses from closing when the pandemic first affected the state last year.

Another bill signed into law called the Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act allows college athletes to receive payment from endorsements and from the use of their name, image and likeness.

The legislation, named after the University of Maryland offensive lineman who died in 2018 after a heatstroke during a team workout, also requires athletic departments to establish guidelines to prevent and treat serious sports-related injuries and illnesses.

Lawmakers did override vetoes made by Hogan such as police reform and accountability bills. The package approved includes a new statewide use-of-force standard, allows the public to review certain police records that deal with police misconduct and a new disciplinary process that includes civilian committees, versus trial boards with fellow officers, to assess and decide the discipline of officers.

Hogan, alongside Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones, sat at a long table signing each piece of legislation. The most notable sight: all three didn’t wear masks to present a form of normalcy as the state continues to combat the pandemic.

“It’s funny to be here without masks on,” said Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). “We can feel the after-times of this pandemic.”

Jones, a Democratic of Baltimore County, said this year’s work “looked through the lens of inclusion” such as the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in sports betting.

“Sometimes it takes a while to pass meaningful, effective legislation to get it right,” she said. “We’re expanding the rights of Marylanders [and] positioning us on the right side of history and making this state one of the best.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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