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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Slots and God Report

- Magna’s Vice Chariman Dennis Mills will meet today with recalcitrant House Speaker Michael Busch to try and spur a compromise agreement on slots in Maryland, but the odds of a breakthrough sound about the same as the chances of Bellamy Road taking the Triple Crown.

[Busch] criticized Mills for a lack of involvement during the past legislative session and questioned Magna's commitment to Maryland after the company announced last week it would build a $100 million racetrack in Romulus, Mich.

"We passed a bill last year with input from the governor. Please tell me where Dennis Mills was during this period of time," Busch said. "It's not like they didn't have the opportunity to hit this thing out of the park. If he was that concerned about his industry and the end of the industry as we know it, you would think he would be down there. How does he not show up, and he's paying four or five lobbyists $4 [million] to $5 million a year?" [Washington Post]
Again, this guy Busch often says things that are hard to argue with. As for Governor Ehrlich, he was busy during Preakness week, though not because he was handicapping the card. He vetoed a bill that would have required Wal-Mart to pay at least 8% of its payroll on health care or contribute more to the state’s Medicare fund.
Ehrlich was joined at the veto ceremony by a Wal-Mart executive and 200 people, including a handful of protesters. A high school band played "God Bless America." [Yahoo]
The typing sound you hear is me Googling Wal-Mart’s record of campaign contributions to the Gov, I’ll let you know. In addition, late Friday afternoon, when the local news was focused on the next day’s Preakness, Ehlich vetoed a bill that would have allowed gay partners to make medical decisions for one another.
"While Senate Bill 796 has the noble goals of ensuring that couples have access to important health-related decisions - compassionate goals that I embrace - the mechanism it uses, the creation of a new term of life partner, will open the door to undermine the sanctity of traditional marriage." [Newsday]
Don Dwyer, Jr., a GOP delegate who is trying to repeal 4 gay rights bills, commented
”We believe there is a creator in God and our rights come from him. The homosexuals feel that their rights are given by the courts, and that's the reason they're using the courts to further their agenda." [Hometown Annapolis]
There was no word as to whether any (heterosexual only) high school bands played God Bless America for this veto, for certainly, any God would certainly want to bless an America that uses His name to deny people equal rights. Ehrlich magnanimously declined to veto a bill to include attacks on gays in the definition of hate crimes. So, while a perpetrator in such an attack could be charged in a hate crime against gays, the victim’s life partner would not be permitted to make medical decisions for him or her. Makes sense to me.

- Broward County pari-mutuels have filed suit against Florida, seeking a ruling as to whether they may proceed with voter-approved slots despite the legislature’s (prodded by Governor Bush) failure to pass a bill. A group opposing slots previously filed suit to prevent the pari-mutuels from going ahead.
State Senator Steve Geller, D-Hallandale Beach, said he hopes the Broward suit is successful, but says it is not an open-and-shut case.

''The constitutional amendment contradicts itself,'' said Geller, a key supporter of slots legislation.

'On the one hand, it says that slot machines shall be permitted and the Legislature shall pass implementing legislation. To be perfectly clear, it should have said `if the Legislature fails to pass, it can open up anyhow.' It didn't say that.'' [Miami Herald]
GOP Rep. Randy Johnson, a leading slots opponent, countered, "It became very apparent to me that the slots industry was going to attempt to write their own regulations that would lead to the Wild West in Broward County…..But the Constitution says it's the Legislature that shall create the enabling legislation." [Newsday] The typing sound you hear is me Googling to see what the Florida Constitution says about implementing the will of the people as expressed in voter referendums. Given the 2000 election results, I imagine I won't find anything at all.

- Slots efforts also underway (and being opposed) in Illinois and Texas. And the president of Suffolk Downs bluntly warned that `Without slot machines in the near future, the racing at Suffolk will cease and the property will be developed.” [Boston Herald] He earned strong support from Boston mayor Thomas Menino, the first top-ranking Bay State politician in years to take up the cause of expanded gambling.