The following was received from the office of Del. Rick Impallaria:
In the final days of this session Governor O’Malley pushed a bill to condemn the Preakness, a measure which I saw as cover for those members of the General Assembly who had failed over the past six years to act on a reasonable gaming (slots) bill for the State of Maryland. Last year’s slots bill was so poorly planned and drafted that it was clearly too little too late to save horse racing in Maryland.
What does the condemnation by eminent domain of the Preakness really mean?
It is an unconstitutional act of confiscation of private property to be taken from one group of citizens and handed over to another. So it is, in my opinion, fundamentally wrong. The reality of what such an action causes, when a commercial entity is placed under eminent domain, is that its property, its stock, and its value are immediately diminished. This is especially true for the Magna Corporation, which is a publicly traded company that has stockholders invested in it. This maneuver by the General Assembly has further damaged these stockholders. The Preakness and Magna Corporation, now in bankruptcy court, are looking for prospective buyers. Bidding on such a package is a very expensive proposition. For the bidders, knowing the State is interfering in the process, and not being sure what the final resolution will be, have a lot less incentive to make an offer.
Magna purchased Pimlico and the Preakness, gambling that slots would come to Maryland in a timely fashion. They gambled, and they lost. Now the General Assembly and the Governor have decided, during these bad economic times, that the State just might go into the horse racing business. For a government that has not yet figured out how to run government, how to properly manage schools, or how to support the utility industry, why shouldn’y they go into the gambling business? After all, it’s only the taxpayers’ money, and if you’re going to gamble, you’d better use someone else’s money.
I hope you realize I’m being facetious. It is improper for the State to gamble with taxpayers’ money and to interfere with this private-sector industry. I not only voted against this bill, I spoke out against it on the House floor.
P.S. Just remember that if the State does take over the Preakness, they may end up with an empty shell. There is no guarantee that any Triple Crown horses will run in the race in the future, nor is there anything to stop the racing industry from running the second leg of the Triple Crown in a different state under a different name at a different venue. If I were a member of that industry, that is exactly what I would do, to prevent a legal precedent from being set, allowing government to successfully take over part of horse racing.
P.S.2 Hope to see you at the East Baltimore County TEA Party, Saturday, April 18, 10 am at the Chesapeake Gateway Park, corner of Eastern and Old Eastern Avenues in Middle River (next to the Seven 11). For more information contact me at 443-257-4782.
Delegate, District 7 (Baltimore and Harford Counties)