Instant Racing Article 9-2010b

September 2010

Gambling expansion milestones

What do they have in common?  There is a sleaze factor associated with each.

Below is a simple listing of some of the calculated (and misguided) strategies that have been attempted to expand gambling in the Commonwealth in the last three years.  Each one illustrates the kind of manipulative control the gambling industry will have and will use to further shape the Commonwealth’s government if their plans are ever implemented:

201009b AElection Fall 2007 and General Assembly Session 2008:     In 2007, Beshear campaigned on a platform of “Letting the people decide.” He even chided his opponent, Gov. Ernie Fletcher, during a debate, strongly challenging him with, “Don’t you trust the people of Kentucky?” Beshear was advocating a state constitutional amendment which, after passing both Chambers of the legislature with a 3/5 majority, the people would have the final right of ratification or rejection.  The problem is that in early 2008 a constitutional amendment did not even pass the House, the chamber that is controlled by the Governor’s own Party.

General Assembly Session 2009:     So, what did the Governor do? In the 2009 regular session of the General Assembly, he jettisoned his constitutional amendment plan and pushed to bypass the people by bringing more gambling into Kentucky with a simple gambling statute. Why? He claimed that there was “not time” to pass a constitutional amendment. But the real reason is that a simple statute only needs 51 percent of the legislature and no ratification (or rejection) by the people.

Special Session Summer 2009:     When his plan failed in the 2009 session, he called a Special Session of the General Assembly in the summer of 2009.  There he arranged to have Attorney General Jack Conway deliver his “you-don’t-need-a-constitutional-amendment-to-expand-gambling” opinion on the first day of the Special Session.  Still House Leadership could not find 51 “Yes” votes even though there were 65 Democrats in the House.

MORE Special Session Summer 2009:     Then the discussion shifted in the Special Session to “education” and legislators were “bribed” to vote for gambling expansion with the promise that schools in the districts of those who voted “Yes” would have opportunity to be renovated or rebuilt with gambling money proceeds.  This helped them find 52 votes in the House but the bill died in its Senate Committee that wanted no part of expanded gambling, and certainly not expansion without a constitutional amendment.  (NOTE: Unfortunately, it is legal to commit public money into a legislator’s district to help him “decide” how to vote for some unrelated legislation.)

Special Elections Fall 2010:     Then, after failing to pass the slots bill in the Special Session during the summer, Beshear began a new strategy – he decided to use the power of his office to offer great jobs to senators from the other Party (with whom he firmly disagreed), just so he could remove them and then attempt to elect a pro-gambling senator in their place through a Special Election that he would call.  This was a brazen misuse of the power of the Governor’s Office.  Since when does a Governor use all the power of his office FOR one industry? Unfortunately for him, this new strategy would work out badly. His first election had veteran representative, Robin Webb, barely defeating a neophyte to politics, Dr. Jack Ditty, in the 18th Senate District on August 25.  But then on Dec. 8, after spending almost $1.4 million, Jodie Haydon, the Governor’s candidate, lost by a 56 to 44 percent margin to the Republican anti-gambling expansion candidate.

General Assembly Session 2010:     After that disaster, Beshear asserted himself afresh in 2010 and offered his 2010-2012 fiscal budget on Jan. 19 to the General Assembly based on the revenue from gambling, hoping to coerce the legislators for gambling.  Both the Leader of the House (of the Governor’s own Party) and the Leader of the Senate (of the other Party) asked him not to do this.  The result was that the budget had to be substantially re-written and a Special Session had to be called after the 2010 session to get the job done . . . at excessive expense to Kentucky tax payers.

Court Case Summer 2010:     Now a court case has been initiated by the state’s eight horse racing tracks working in conjunction with the Governor’s Horse Racing Commission and Department of Revenue.  This consortium agreed together to ask the court to authorize their plan to expand gambling via a special electronic device (much like a video slot terminal) that has the patron betting on videos of past horse races.  In other words, the General Assembly – the legislative branch – has been unwilling to expand gambling.  It evidently is time for the judicial branch to authorize expanded gambling.

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