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Sunday, August 06, 2006
Posted 11:10 PM by

Lame duck Pa. leaders have slots of ideas

Although they're on their way out the door, Pennsylvania Senate leaders David Brightbill (left) and Bob Jubelirer issued Gov. Ed Rendell an ultimatum about reforming the state slots law last week.As I wrote on Saturday, the success or failure to reform Pennsylvania's slots gambling law hinges on two legislative leaders who lost in the May primary.

Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Jubelirer and Senate majority leader David "Chip" Brightbill remain large and in charge, despite their lame-duck status.

As if to affirm it, the pair sent Gov. Ed Rendell a letter that more of an ultimatum last week, telling him they favor passing Senate Bill 862 along with an amendment.

The pair of quakers had 17 points the amendment addresses included in any legislation that is moved forward, according to a copy of an Aug. 2 letter posted on the Web site. Among them:

  • Requiring the state Gaming Control Board to adopt a code of conduct and require a conflict of interest review prior to its approval of any of the 14 slots parlor licenses.

  • Subject the board to the state budget process. (It's currently running on money borrowed from other departments.)

  • Require the board to be subject to the state's Sunshine Law, Open Records act and other laws, require it to hold public input hearings and classify any state gaming official to be listed as a "public official" in those laws and prevent them from receiving complimentary services or discounts.

  • Stripping Philadelphia of the right to zone where a slots parlor go and requiring it to give $5 million of its annual local share of slots winning to the city's school district. (I can't say I agree with that one.)

  • All slots parlors would be exempt from local smoking ordinances. (I can't disagree with this one more. It's bad enough the state is running roughshod over local zoning ordinances, but this creates a double-standard.)

  • Prohibit public officials and their immediate families from owning any interest in gaming entities including facilities, manufacturers, and suppliers. (Your Executive Order did not limit investments by family members of Executive Branch personnel.)
"If you are agreeable to these reforms and can provide the specific language you will support and approve to correct the deficiencies, the legislative process can then move forward in developing final consensus and scheduling expeditious action," Brightbill and Jubelirer wrote.

Based on all of that, this could get very interesting.
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