Coalition backing casinos sends mailers to 8 GOP Senate districts asking voters to urge passage

02/21/2012 07:13 AM

The group of businesses, some unions, horse owners and officials who are backing the constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Kentucky is asking voters in at least eight Senate districts represented by Republicans to urge their senators to support the proposal.

The direct mailings from the Kentucky Alliance for Jobs target Republicans who have previously expressed publicly their willingness to vote for a constitutional amendment allowing casinos. The constitutional amendment process requires approval of three-fifths of each chamber of the legislature and ratification by voters.

And the mailers urge voters to call their senators and thank them for expressing previous support for wanting to go the constitutional amendment route that allows voters to have the final say. It provides the Legislative Research Commission phone number and encourages the voters to thank their senators for “support of allowing you to decide the future of expanded gaming in Kentucky.”

For instance, Sen. Dan Seum, a Louisville Republican and the Senate GOP caucus chairman, said on “Pure Politics” on Aug. 9, 2011, that he is “all for putting it on the ballot and have been all along.”

But Seum told the Courier-Journal he couldn’t support the initial draft of the measure unveiled a week ago by Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican Sen. Damon Thayer. Specifically, he said he was concerned that the constitutional amendment language was too specific by limiting five licenses to horse racetracks, which he said would reduce competition, and thus the price, of such licenses.

Thayer told Pure Politics in a brief phone interview Monday that he and the governor are continuing to work on changing the measure’s wording but “I’m not prepared to say anything publicly yet.”

“It could get broader,” he added.

The list of GOP Senators whose voters will receive mailers gives an indication about who might be on the fence — and whose votes might make or break the casino proposal.

They include Seum, Northern Kentucky Republicans Katie Stine of Southgate, John Schickel of Union and Jack Westwood of Erlanger, as well as Sen. Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon, Ernie Harris of Crestwood, Jared Carpenter of Richmond and Paul Hornback of Shelbyville. Carpenter and Hornback, two of the newest state Senators, both expressed their support for putting “this issue on the ballot” during their 2010 campaigns. Higdon told WHAS-11 in Louisville shortly after winning a special election for the 14th District that he would back the measure to allow for voters to ultimately decide the issue. He repeated that last fall on Pure Politics.

The Kentucky Alliance for Jobs announced its public campaign on behalf of allowing casinos in the state on Feb. 9 in a press conference at the rotunda, featuring speakers such as Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson.


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