Frankfort Local News

Beshear Says Gambling Bill Failure Strengthens Supporters

Governor Steve Beshear says he won’t back down on efforts to bring casino gambling to Kentucky, despite another defeat on the issue last week.

Since his first term as governor in 2007, Beshear has made expanding gambling his main priority. This year, he attempted to pass a constitutional amendment dealing with the issue through the state Senate. The bill fell seven votes short of passage in a vote that critics say should be the end of the issue. But Beshear says the vote gave more resolve to the business leaders and horse racing interests who back the idea.

“I think if anything it strengthens the coalition because they’ve become more determined to get the job done,” he says.

Frankfort Local News

Beshear’s Gambling Amendment Fails in State Senate Vote

Governor Steve Beshear’s expanded gambling amendment has failed in the state Senate.

The measure would have allowed for a public vote on whether to legalize casinos in the state. It fell seven votes short of the 23 it needed to move to the House. The shortfall was due largely to fractures in the Democratic caucus.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Republican Senator Damon Thayer, says he’s finished with the issue after nine years of working on it.

“I did everything I could do. I did everything I said I would do. I’ve been completely consistent for nine years. And it ended in defeat today. That’s the way it goes. You win some, you lose some,” he says.

Senate President David Williams, an opponent of the issue, says the vote shows that support never existed for casinos in Kentucky.

“The question was, ‘was it ever alive for this session?’ Obviously it was never alive for this session. There has never been the support in theKentuckystate Senate for passage of expansion of gambling. There wasn’t last year, there wasn’t the year before that. There hasn’t been the entire tenure the Governor was here and now the votes are out there and everyone knows,” he says.

Frankfort Local News

Gambling Bill Clears Senate Committee

Governor Steve Beshear’s constitutional amendment to legalize casinos in Kentucky has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The bill passed the Senate’s State and Local Government committee 7-4 today.

The measure would allow up to seven casinos in Kentucky. But the committee changed the bill, dropping language that requires five of the casinos to be at horse racing tracks. The measure still requires a 60-mile buffer zone between tracks and independent casinos.

“You know the 60 mile radius is really a number that you come to by negotiating, trying to figure out what’s a reasonable radius to have,” Beshear told the committee. “I would agree with you it could be 40, could be 70, you know you need some type of reasonable buffer in order to protect the tracks and make sure it can stay in existence.”

Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation told committee members that the bill still gives the racing industry a monopoly.

Frankfort Local News

Pastors Rally in Rotunda Against Gambling Amendment

Pastors and concerned citizens in Kentucky are taking their fight against expanded gambling directly to the Capitol.

Led by the Reverend Hershel York, opponents of Governor Steve Beshear’s gambling amendment flooded Frankfort today in protest.

They filled hallways and lobbied legislators to vote no on the amendment, then gathered in the Rotunda for a larger rally.

And it was at the rally that York clearly let lawmakers know the group’s feelings.

“Make sure they hear ya’. How do you want them to vote?  No to expanded gambling, no to destroying Kentucky’s families, no to hurting our children, no to unfairly breaking the backs of our economy,” York said.

Frankfort Local News

Stumbo Has Questions About Gambling Amendment, May Change Wording

Changes could already be coming to Governor Steve Beshear’s proposed gambling amendment.

The amendment would allow up to seven casinos in Kentucky, with five of them based at horse racing tracks. House Speaker Greg Stumbo supports expanded gaming in Kentucky, but he still has major questions about the amendment. And Stumbo says those questions will likely lead to changes to the measure if it can pass the state Senate.

“Well just from listening to members talk there’s a number of members who have concerns about giving these constitutional guaranteed licenses to private businesses,” he says. “And I think if it’s gonna muster enough support there’s probably gonna gave to be some answer to that question.”

Frankfort Local News

Gambling Amendment Would Allow Up to Seven Casinos

After weeks of waiting, Governor Steve Beshear and state Senator Damon Thayer have unveiled their constitutional amendment for expanded gambling.

The amendment allows for up to seven casinos in Kentucky, but five must be at horse racing tracks. The two free-standing casinos cannot be within sixty miles of a track, regardless of whether that track has a casino.

The amendment will be sponsored by Thayer and co-sponsored by a host of other senators, including two other Republicans. If the measure passes the General Assembly, the following question would appear on this fall’s ballot:

“Are you in favor of authorizing the General Assembly to permit the establishment and operation of up to seven strictly regulated casinos, up to five of which would be at licensed horse racing tracks, with the Commonwealth’s revenue from them to be spent for job creation, education, human services, health care, veterans programs, local governments, public safety and support of the horse industry?”

Frankfort Local News

Kentucky Chamber Leads ‘Broad Coalition’ to Support Expanding Gaming

A newly-formed coalition of businesses, unions and education groups have teamed up to get a constitutional amendment for gambling on the ballot in Kentucky.

The group is called the Kentucky Alliance for Jobs. It’s a 501(c)(4), meaning it can raise money and advertise to support casino gaming.

The alliance is led by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Chamber President Dave Adkisson says the coalition is large and diverse, and the members don’t always get along.

“Often times we’re engaged in various battles here in Frankfort and we don’t always see eye to eye,” Adkisson says. “However we stand here united today. We all agree that we should let the citizens of Kentucky decide whether to permit expanded gambling.”

Several mayors, judge-executives and groups that represent Kentucky’s city and county governments are in the group as well. 

But opponents of the amendment say the coalition is another stunt for a dead issue. Martin Cothran with the Family Foundation says if the gambling amendment could pass, it already would have.

Whether or not the amendment has 23 votes—the minimum required to pass the state Senate—has been a major point of debate between the two sides.

Frankfort Local News

Beshear Says 23 Votes for Gambling Amendment Are There, Blames Williams for Lobbying Against Issue

Responding to critics, Governor Steve Beshear says he believes he already has ample support in the state Senate to send an expanded gambling amendment to the ballot.

Beshear says there are 23 state senators who would vote in favor of the measure. That doesn’t mean all 23 support gambling though, as some senators, like Republican Damon Thayer, have said they will vote to put the issue on the ballot but aren’t supportive of gambling in Kentucky. Opponents have said the governor does not have the votes in his favor.

“I think we have 23 people saying that they will vote on this issue and vote in favor of putting this on the ballot,” Beshear said. “But as we all know between the time the bill is introduced and the time that the vote is actually taken a lot of conversations go on.”

Frankfort Local News

Thayer Likely to Sponsor Gambling Amendment, Says Votes Are Close

Governor Steve Beshear’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to expand gaming could get a big boost soon.

State Senator Damon Thayer, a Republican, says it’s very likely he will sponsor Beshear’s amendment this session. Thayer has been working with Beshear on the gambling issue this session, giving the amendment leverage it hasn’t had before.

“I think that’s something I’m considering strongly and has a high probability,’ Thayer says. “But there’ll be a time and a place we announce that once I make that decision.”

The issue has been lost amid battles over redistricting and the introduction of  Beshear’s budget. But the gambling issue is a priority of Beshear’s as well.

The Family Foundation does not support expanded gambling and twice this week, the group sent out news releases calling the bill almost dead. Beshear has been coy about whether he has the votes to pass the amendment this session and Thayer admits that getting enough votes will be difficult.

“But I will say that I think it’s going to be close,” Thayer says. “I think 23 votes is a big step on a very controversial issue and I do think its close.”

The governor has previously said the amendment could be out any day now.


Local News Noise & Notes Politics

KCEP Urges Tax Reform Over Expanded Gaming

Leaders with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy are calling on state leaders to tackle tax reform to address the commonwealth’s economic woes.

Governor Steve Beshear plans to close the state’s $742 million spending gap by cutting many state agencies by up to 8.4 percent and using a number of other measures, including taking $100 million of the $122 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Director Jason Bailey says that’s a necessary step to prevent deeper cuts.

“Well, Rainy Day Funds are there for days when it rains, that’s the purpose of them and it’s absolutely raining right now. It is a smart policy decision for the governor to use the Rainy Day Funds to plug this budget,” he says.