Comer thinks Frankfort will be 'better' without Williams, says gambling could pass

10/25/2012 10:22 PM

The seemingly inevitable departure of David Williams from the Senate will mean a fresh start in Frankfort and better odds for the passage of a measure to allow expanded gambling in Kentucky, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said.

Comer, in an interview Thursday with Pure Politics, said the time was right for Williams, the Republican Senate president, to leave the Senate. Williams is among three southern Kentuckians whose names were sent to Gov. Steve Beshear by a judicial nominating committee to fill an open circuit judgeship.

“I think Frankfort will be a better place, I think it will significantly change things in Frankfort. Senator Williams has accomplished some good things, he has a long career. But I think everyone would agree it was time for him to move on, I think he would agree with that” at 9:20 of the first interview segment. .

“Change is good, and every now and then you need to change leadership. That’s why we have term limits on the presidency, that’s why we have term limits for ag. commissioner, and for governor of Kentucky” (10:40).

Find out which Republican senator Comer sees as most likely to become the next Senate president — and which other senators could be considered for the position or other leadership posts at the beginning of this interview segment:

Comer also said a change in Senate leadership and lessons learned from the 2012 legislative session could give an expanded gambling its best chance yet to clear the General Assembly.

Comer supports a “clean” constitutional amendment that essentially would permit casino-style of gambling but would leave the details of where, how and how its monitored to separate legislation. The constitutional amendment requires support from three-fifths of each legislative chamber before going to the ballot for voters’ approval.

“Its obvious when you look at the polling, people want to vote on this issue. I will never understand why we are so afraid to put the fate of Kentucky in the hands of Kentuckians” (at :35 of the above interview segment).

Comer said he’s been meeting with representatives from the horse industry, who have taken criticism for pushing this year for a constitutional amendment that would guarantee horse race tracks a geographic buffer zone to keep out free-standing casinos.

While Comer said that shouldn’t be written into the constitution, he favors some protections for the horse industry.

“I don’t want to ever let casinos compete with horse racing in the state. Horse racing is the priority here, the horse industry is the priority, and what we need to do, what ever legislation we need to pass needs to protect the horse industry in Kentucky” (2:30).

And he predicted something could pass the General Assembly in 2013, although a constitutional amendment can’t go onto the ballot for final approval until an even year election.

“That’s something I think we’ll see this session. I’m going to work hard on it,” he said. (1:50)

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