Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2001

Senate OKs lottery bill, but with changes

February 15, 2001


— The Senate voted Wednesday to extend the Kansas Lottery's life for two years, four fewer than the House wants.

The vote was 26-11. Some senators who voted no were opposed to gambling, while others complained about how lottery revenues were distributed.

State law abolishes the lottery on July 1, 2002, but leaders have said the Legislature must give the agency a year to pay off prizes and wind down operations if lawmakers don't want to continue it.

The bill approved by the Senate would set a new abolition date of July 1, 2004.

It also would require the lottery to take competitive bids on contracts of more than $1 million.

The provision is a response to concerns that GTECH, the Rhode Island company that runs the lottery's online computer games, won't have to face competition to get its contract renewed in 2002. The contract is worth more than $7 million a year.

The Senate debated the lottery's contracting practices and the morality of state-sponsored gambling. An amendment to create a program with lottery revenues to reduce airfares in Kansas was ruled out of order.

The House passed HB 2038 last week with a six-year extension of the lottery, to July 2008, but senators heavily amended it before approving it. The bill now returns to the House, where members are expected to reject the Senate changes. Rejection in the House would force legislative leaders to appoint a committee to draft a compromise.

House Speaker Kent Glasscock was surprised the Senate would approve a two-year extension, which he thinks is too short.

"Renewal of the lottery is such a painful experience that I'm surprised the Senate is such a glutton for punishment," said Glasscock, R-Manhattan.

The amendment to shorten the lottery's proposed extension to two years from six was offered by freshman Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia. He said he wanted another chance to review the lottery during his current term.

Barnett's amendment passed on a voice vote.

Gov. Bill Graves and the Senate's Republican leaders had hoped for a "clean" lottery bill. To that end, the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee stripped out a House plan in the bill to create a program to reduce airfares.

Some senators wanted to discuss a compromise version of the House airfare plan. Sen. Paul Feleciano, D-Wichita, offered an amendment, but Sen. Dave Corbin, R-Towanda, presiding over the debate, said the amendment wasn't relevant.

The Kansas Constitution says legislative bills must contain only one subject. Corbin said Feleciano's amendment was a budget proposal.

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