Archive for Saturday, March 10, 2001

Slots supporters get more time

March 10, 2001


— Backers of a bill that would legalize slot machines at dog and horse tracks have two more weeks to build support in the Senate.

The chamber will not act on the measure in the next two weeks, Sen. Nancey Harrington, who chairs the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, said Friday.

Harrington, R-Goddard, and Senate President Dave Kerr, R-Hutchinson, oppose the bill and have predicted it won't receive the 21 votes needed for passage in the 40-member chamber.

Harrington's committee endorsed the bill Thursday, with several amendments. Some committee members criticized the timing, saying the measure would have a better chance later in the session if the state's revenue picture were bleak.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley echoed that criticism Friday.

"The decision to move the slots bill out of committee, I think, is just an effort to kill the bill," said Hensley, D-Topeka. "I don't think there is any sincere desire on the part of the Republican leadership to have any sort of meaningful action taken."

The bill would allow slot machines, supervised by the Kansas Lottery, at horse and dog tracks if county voters approved.

The machines would have to pay out at least 87 percent in prizes, with 60 percent of the remainder going to the tracks, 30 percent to the state's general fund and 10 percent split several ways.

Supporters predict the state's share would be $75 million a year.

Hensley said the bill lacks enough votes for Senate passage now, but said that could change at the end of the session if the state revenue picture is bleak.

Revenue collections in December, January and February fell about $50 million short of estimates.

"I think it's a fairly safe assumption that the votes won't be there, and that the issue will be dead for the session," Hensley said. "That is again unfortunate given the fact we don't know what our fiscal situation will be come April."

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