Thursday, February 28, 2008

Legislature's Addiction To Gambling Worsens

The Indiana Senate passed ridiculous legislation yesterday allowing some forms of gambling at your neighborhood bar, albeit by a close margin, 26-21. The bar owners claimed it was unfair to allow not-for-profit organizations like American Legion halls and churches to make money off of pull tabs but not them. These would be the same bar owners who have kept state excise police busy raiding their establishments for illegally operating so-called Cherry Master machines in their bars. What I found particularly disappointing was the push for this legislation by Sen. President Pro Tempore David Long. The Star's Bill Ruthhart quotes Long:

On Wednesday, nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting for HB 1153, including Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne . . .

Long said business at the state's taverns has been hurt by tougher drunken-driving laws and smoking bans in recent years.

"The taverns are hurting for business," Long said, highlighting the law that allowed pull tabs for nonprofit organizations but not taverns.

"I thought they made a compelling argument that this doesn't create a problem with gambling in this state, and they were an unintended victim of the law last year."

Long's predecessor, Sen. Bob Garton, would have never allowed a vote on this legislation, let alone vote for it. He had become very weary of the dubious motives behind the folks lobbying lawmakers for gaming expansion in this state for good reason. It will be interesting to see which, if any, lawmakers get jobs as lobbyists after the session adjourns this year. The list just keeps growing. And wouldn't it be nice if the legislature devoted as much time on providing real property tax relief to the state's property taxpayers as it does in rewarding lawbreakers.


Anonymous said...

You're right about the priorities the legislature puts on different subjects, Gary. The SJR7 debate, for instance, in thie Senate session, was a complete waste of time, given they'd already apssed it once in this biennium.

But please don't wish Sen. Garton back. The trouble over at the legislature is oldtime hacks of both parties, like Garton, who stayed too long. And Garton drank at the public till. His "private" job was a basically no-show job at Ivy Tech for 25 years.

The list of those who still need to go: Pat Miller, Lindel Hume, Frank Mrvan, Lindel Hume, Glenn Howard, Vanetta Becker, Johnny Nugent, Theresa Lubbers, Larry Buell,. Woodu Burton, Bill Friend, Ralph Foley, Phil Hinkle, Tim Harris, Mike Murphy, Phyllis Pond, Eric Turner, Pat Bauer, Bill Cochran, Paul Robertson, Vanessa Summers, Peggy Welch, the Verns (Smith and Tincher), and Craig Fry.

Yep. That about does it. There are a few crusty veterans who should stay. But very damned many.

Term limits used to taste like dreck to me. Now they're pretty appealing.

Anonymous said...

My question is: Will the relaxed approach to gambling in bars, VFWs,
Legions, and clubs lead to a even more aggressive crackdown on the
"pea-shake" operations. I guess the answer is - If it makes the city and state money -it is ok. So,
find a way to legitimize the pea shakes and quit wasting law enforcement on these nickel and dime operations....


Gary R. Welsh said...

Garton had the wisdom to shut down the lobbying efforts on the racino legislation when two lawmakers, Jeff Drozda and David Frizzell, showed up on the payrolls of gambling-related entities. David Long ushered in an opening of the floodgates on that issue and what did we get? Slot machines at the race track under the guise of providing property tax relief to homeowners, which has proven to be one of the biggest public policy debacles of modern Indiana politics.

Anonymous said...

8:14...Consider an autonomous redistricting commission instead of term limits. I'm OK with a district re-electing an official as many times as the voters wish. I'm not OK with the officials stacking the deck so the voters have little choice.

Anonymous said...


Eclecticvibe said...

Are we supposed to have sympathy for bars because of tougher drunk-driving laws? If they're hurting because of these laws, it means they were overserving alcohol, which is illegal. Will the ATC be regulating the gambling as well?

Anonymous said...

9:03, that's an excellent suggestion,a dn there is precedent.

A non-partisan entity can establish fair district lines. When the Republican City-County Council & Clerk wanted to stack the deck with stupid lines, they were taken to court. Judge Bradford ridiculously refused to recuse, and his nonsense decision was reversed and remanded to a panel of judges who promptly established a method to draw new lines.

And look a those new lines--mostly square districts, and look what happened the next election after Democrats took control? Republilcans now control the council, albiet partyl through at-large seats.

A non-partisan entity can be found to draw lines. That's the point. I hate term limits, but when the Statehouse has Humes & Pat Millers running around for the better part of four decades,'s time for some kind of change.

I recall the House district of the late Dennis Heeke, a Democrat from DuBois County. In some places, it was one precinct wide, stretched from just south of Scottsburg to just north of Evansville. It toook over two hours to travel, east to west, ikn his Hosue district.

All to protect one incumbent or the other. Insane.

Anonymous said...

Senator Long has become a major disappointment.

Last session he championed the crack down on illegal Cherry Masters and Pea Shakes.

This session he is championing the criminals he targeted last session as well as trying some underhanded moves with Senator Meeks to get a casino in their region.

Anonymous said...

The ultimate insult will be Mitch Daniels if he doesn't veto this bill.

If you recall he campaigned that he would stop the expansion of gambling almost four years ago.

He may preside over the largest expansion of gambling in our state since Evan Bayh.

This doesn't even count his future plans to privatized the state lottery.

Anonymous said...

How is the privatization of the lottery an "expansion of gambling?" I do believe gambling has gotten out of hand though and needs to be cut back.

The Governor's veto in Indiana can be overridden by the very majority that passed the bill in the first place. The Gov's veto is virtually worthless.

Anonymous said...

How do you think a private owner of the state lottery is going to maximize profits?

Expand retail outlets?

More advertising?

Lower winning payouts?

Or maybe talk some polticians into giving it to them for a heavily discounted price by flashing a big number in front of them and the promise of some kick backs?

Anonymous said...

The governor needs to threaten a veto and carry it out.

By being silent or saying he will entertain it if it is passed is the sames as giving it a green light to passage.

Anonymous said...

Their is no definite majority that would over ride his veto.

This has just passed by a couple of votes.

No doubt Mitch could swing it the other way if he wanted to intervene in an election year.