Republicans offer suggestions on how to pass expanded gambling in 2012

11/23/2011 08:48 AM

Expanded gambling is all but certain to be a big issue in next year’s legislative session. Now it’s just a matter of what form the proposal takes.

Gov. Steve Beshear, a proponent of expanded gambling, has yet to reveal his plans.

But state Rep. Larry Clark, a Louisville Democrat and Speaker Pro Tem of the House, said Beshear plans to meet with House leaders soon about his priorities.

And a key to passing expanded gambling rests in the Republican-controlled Senate. The Senate rejected a bill to allow slots at racetracks in 2009 and the threat of the Senate turning down a gambling bill has been a factor in whether some House members might take the leap and vote for an expanded gambling measure.

State Sen. Damon Thayer, a Republican from Georgetown who has many connections to the horse industry, punted when asked if expanded gambling could be passed through the Senate in 2012.

But he did have one suggestion for the governor to not account for any gambling revenue in his two-year budget proposal as Beshear did in January 2010.

One Republican representative has already put forth a proposal for two votes to get expanded gambling in Kentucky. The first vote would be a constitutional amendment that would need to pass, then a follow-up vote in each county that wanted to have a casino.

That bill, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Nemes of Louisville, appears to have support of some of his fellow House Republicans.

State Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington of Fort Wright recently appeared on Pure Politics to say she supports Nemes’ proposal. But she wants any gambling revenue to fund new ventures in education and law enforcement.

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