Republican says state House under GOP control would be more likely to push for casinos

04/27/2014 04:05 PM

The 2014 General Assembly ended up passing on measures to let voters decide the fate of expanded gambling, but Republicans won’t let happen if the GOP controls the state House next year, said Rep. David Osborne, R-Prospect.

Osborne said the blame for inaction ultimately rests on House Democrats who refused to vote on the legislation in committee. House Democratic leaders had said they were reluctant to push the issue if it was doomed in the state Senate.

“The piece of blame was certainly cast at the Senate when they decided not to act on the bill, and there have been — I guess — kind of an unwritten thought that any legislation needed to start in the Senate,” Osborne said.

However, Osborne said he and several pro-gaming House members started working with the horse race tracks and other groups to take up the legislation in the House.

Early in the session House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark filed a gaming bill ,but that bill was never voted on in committee. On March 4, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, filed a different amendment that would allow the general assembly to approve casinos without a constitutional amendment. But that was never taken up in committee either.

Why those bills were never heard in the House is a mystery to Osborne, who said a bill had the votes to move the legislation to the Senate.

Osborne, who is a horse owner and one of the most vocal House Republicans in favor of expanded gaming in the state, said there was a “genuine desire in the House to do something.”

“We had the votes to pass it,” Osborne said. “For whatever reason the speaker decided that it was not something that he wanted to let us vote on, and I can’t tell you why.” ( :45 in the video)

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, pledged at the end of the session to to make casino gambling House Bill 1 — the symbolic top priority — next year should he return as House speaker.

Osborne said that he and others have done everything they can do to educate legislators on the issue, but he urged race track officials to tell House Democratic leadership that “enough is enough.”

There may also be some blame to place upon the shoulders of a few horse parks, for not wanting to go along with proposed legislation, but in the end the fault belongs to legislators — and the governor Osborne said.

“There was a particular entity or two that had some concerns, and certainly we were getting some push back from them. I never felt like that was in any way shape or form responsible for us not passing it,” Osborne said. “At the end of the day private entities do not make public policy. Legislators make public policy and we failed at that job.” (2:00)

While Governor Steve Beshear has shown that he has a desire to move the issue forward, Osborne said that he hasn’t been able to secure the votes for the issue.

With the House of Representative up for grabs in this election cycle, Osborne said gambling and other GOP issues will get their day on the House floor if Republicans can take over leadership.

“That will be a big part of new leadership in the House of Representatives is to address these issues and address them in a timely manner,” he said.


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