Two local lawmakers have been told it could take place May 14th.
Legislative leaders and Governor Martin O'Malley discussed on Tuesday when to call a special session of the Maryland General Assembly. They say they want to avoid $500-million in potential cuts that could result, if lawmakers don't return to Annapolis and finish up their job on the budget and taxes.
"It's not at all needed, but I understand the political powers that be want to move forward with a tax increase, and that would be the first special session," says Frederick County State Senator David Brinkley (R), who chairs the local legislative delegation.
Brinkley says he was told to set aside the week of May 14th for the special session.
The second session, which could be held in August, would take up gambling issues, which include the addition of table games such as blackjack and roulette, and to place on the November ballot a referendum question to allow a sixth casino in Maryland in Prince George's County.
Frederick County Delegate Galen Clagett (D) acknowledges that a special session will likely take place next month, but he's not in favor of two special sessions in one year. "I think it's absurd to have two sessions," he says. "The sessions cost money, and they really can be unproductive in the first place."
Senator Brinkley says if the special session is held on May 14th, lawmakers would pick up right where the conference committee left off. Despite all the talk about a "doomsday budget," where severe cuts would take place without tax increases, Brinkley doesnt' buy it. "I believe we can get by under our current budget," he says. "I believe that adjustments can be made under the current guidelines, and I believe that local governments can accommodate some of those reductions."
Delegate Clagett says the legislators have already passed capital and operating budgets, but were not able to approve revenue packages during the regular session to cover the costs. He says the two plans passed by the House of Delegates and the State Senate contain tax increases. "The way the House finished it, they were minimal. The increases were minimal. The Senate wanted more," he says.
Brinkley agrees that the House version is the lessor of two evils. "The Senate, in my opinion, we're much harsher than the House. If there is something to be adopted, I hope it's the House version," he says.
He also says he's against a second special session in August to take up gambling issues. If one session is being called in May to discuss the budget and taxes, Brinkley says lawmakers should also use that time to take up the gambling issue.
In order for a special session to take place, the House Speaker and the Senate President need to agree on a date.