Panhandle (W.Va.) Grassroots for Democracy

The Panhandle Grassroots for Democracy is working to improve our corner of eastern West Virginia, our state and our nation.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Legislative countdown begins

Crunchtime in Charleston has begun. The State Journal has the story:

One bill that made headlines this week would give residents in counties with horse or dog racetracks the ability to vote on whether to allow casino-style table games at those locations. The table games legislation took a backseat to tort reform last week, but now it has passed its first major hurdle the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senators debated Senate Bill 442 for two hours March 22, discussing everything from whether the entire state should vote on the issue to how much gambling revenue should fund the racetrack employees' pensions. The committee approved a new version of the bill that raised the proposed 12 percent tax rate on table game revenues to 24 percent.

The votes were close Sen. Steve Harrison, R-Kanawha, tried to convince other committee members a statewide referendum should be conducted in which voters could decide whether the four counties with tracks should be able to hold their own local election on table games. But Sen. Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, said legislators are elected to represent the state, and a statewide referendum is not needed.

"Passing it out on a (statewide) referendum is passing the buck," Barnes said.
Sen. Andy McKenzie, R-Ohio, who sponsored the bill, tried to change the way gambling revenues are divvied up to put more than $1 million in racetrack employees' pensions. But after more than 30 minutes of confusing calculations, the committee decided to adopt a simpler approach suggested by Sen. John Pat Fanning, D-McDowell, that would take $500,000 from profits kept by the tracks and $500,000 from the state's tax revenue from table games and dedicate that sum to pensions, which would augment a projected $141,000 for pensions already included in the revenue disbursement formula.

The Judiciary Committee's version of SB442 requires state revenue, projected at about $30 million if all four racetracks add table games, would be split among the Lottery Commission's expenses to regulate the games, along with appropriations to general revenue, the racetrack purse fund, employee pensions, county and city governments, the tourism promotion fund and gambling prevention efforts.

Should we take a position on this bill? I highlighted it because of Charles Town. The entire article is worth reading.


At Wednesday, March 30, 2005 10:00:00 PM, Blogger Panhandle (WV) Grassroots for Democracy said...

Most posts wouldn't need to be this long. I just made it long in part to fill out the page so it didn't look too empty.



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