Thursday, June 18, 2009

my vote on the slots bill

This has been the most difficult decision on a vote I have ever made.

There are very good reasons to be for and against this bill.


We need to help the horse industry. It directly provides about 50,000 jobs in Kentucky. We give incentives to companies for bringing 50 jobs to Kentucky. The horse industry is not looking for a bailout or incentives. It is asking to do more of what currently goes on there. Also, horse racing is the signature industry for this state. I had the opportunity to go to Australia in 2007 and spend 2 weeks learning how they run their government. When I would introduce myself and tell people where I was from, they would always say " racing!". We should do what we can to keep that.

The e-mails and calls I have received from my constituents are running about 90% for.

The bill has a few positive aspects. It eliminates the state income tax for active duty military, gives taxpayers a 50% tax credit on their car tax, and provides sales tax exemptions for the equine industry, such as feed.

There is $2.5 million in the bill for problem gambling prevention.

The bill helps other horse breeds other than thoroughbreds. You would be amazed at the money people spend to move here to raise horses.

If we are ever going to get to a constitutional amendment for full casinos, this may be an interim step we need to take to get there.


This should be on the ballot. After 10 years of hearing "Let the people decide", now we are not. I think that is wrong. I have talked to several attorneys I respect, and I get different answers on its constitutionality. Those opinions seem to coincide with their opinion as to the public policy benefits or detriments. So I really don't know if it is constitutional or not. If this passes, I suppose we will know from the Supreme Court in about 6 to 9 months.

There is much about the details of the bill not to like. There should be more money put toward addiction prevention. There is mandatory unionization of non-supervisory employees at the tracks (boy do I not like that). The buying of votes through schools building projects is unseemly.

The fact that Turfway has the largest initial license fee is really annoying and I think one more slap at northern Kentucky.


I don't think the Senate will pass this version.


I really, really wish this was a bill with full casinos and on the ballot in the form of a constitutional amendment.

The fact that my constituents seem to want me to vote yes overwhelmingly. The ones I talk do not seem to be concerned about having the right to vote. I think the stories of the demise of the horse industry is pushing people to that decision.

I don't want to be the guy that killed the racing industry.

Finally, I keep coming back to a chance encounter I had recently. I went by myself to play golf in Lexington and was paired up with 2 gentlemen. One of the gentlemen moved here from the northeast. He made what I assume was very large amounts of money at some big company (I think it was Comcast). Anyway when he retired, his wife wanted to get into the Thoroughbred business. So they moved here to Kentucky to own and race horses. He told me very flatly that he can't afford to race any of his horses here in Kentucky. He ships them to Indiana and Pennsylvania to race them. He chuckled at the fact that he moved here to Kentucky to be in the horse capital of the world and can't race his horses here.

Now, this gentleman and his wife are the sort of people we need to attract and keep here in Kentucky. He has plenty of money to spend, and he probably does spend it. But he has no roots here. There is nothing keeping him from moving to Indiana or Pennsylvania where his horses do run. We need more people,like this couple, to invest in Kentucky. Therefore we must increase purses and help our tracks become more competitive.

I'd rather see another option like Sen. Damon Thayer's instant racing concept. However, that was not an option. I chose what I believe and hope was the best option. That is why I voted yes.

slots bill

Sounds like there will be a vote on Friday morning. Session starts at 10am. Debate on the bill will probably begin around 10:15. If you want to watch it, it can be seen on KET 4 (or 5, not sure), or The Democratic leadership seems to think they have the votes.

Ever have one of those moments where you mouth fell open in disbelief? I just did. While looking over the amendments for the slots bill, I saw amendment 3. It would eliminate the prevailing wage for school construction for 3 years. The Legislative Research Commission has put down on their web site that the sponsor is Charlie Hoffman. Charlie sits right next to me on the floor and is a HUGE union guy. I suspect there might be a mistake on the web, but it would be great if Charlie actually ran the amendment. It might actually pass if it did.

As for me, I have never been so conflicted about a bill before in my life. I am typically very decisive. Never on the fence. This time is different. Hopefully I will wake up with a final answer.

Check here tomorrow for an explaination of my vote.

Thursday update

Yesterday, HB 3 and 4 were voted out of the House. Those were the economic development bill (which I voted for) and the infrastructure bill (which I voted against).

We just got out of session today. No public policy was made today, but the word is that the slots bill will be up for a vote tomorrow.

More on that in my next post.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

tidbits from Frankfort

On the gambling bill:

We are having a Licensing and Occupations Committee Wednesday at 1pm. The committee will hear the bill, but not vote on it. The vote will be done in Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Not sure why the extra meeting. Theoretically it could be voted on Thursday, but I have a feeling it won't be that day. We'll see if I am right.

They don't have the votes yet, given the Governor is meeting with members.

The Governor has produced his gambling bill. I don't think that is the version that will show up in committee.

On other topics, sounds like the economic incentives bill and infrastructure bills will both come up for vote on Wednesday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

back to Frankfort

I will be headed down to Frankfort today for the special session, or as I like to call it, the yearly summer session.

We will be taking up the Governor's budget reduction plan, slots at the tracks, economic development incentive plan, and the Ohio-Indiana bridges plan.

I plan to update the blog regularly through the session.

Rumor is that we will be taking up the slots plan at a Licensing and Occupations committee meeting on Tuesday.

First thing to look for: All 4 bills will probably be introduced today. Will they all be given their first reading today or not? If so, then they could all be passed starting on Wednesday. If not, then the negotiating and posturing has already begun.