Missouri Legislative Report
Evelio Silvera, Executive Director
April 19-23, 2008

With just three more weeks left in the legislative session, members of the House are acting fast to make sure bills quickly move from the perfection phase to the third reading phase in order to move them on to the Senate. This means that some bills which didn’t seem to be going anywhere are now having new life breathed into them. In addition, lawmakers are on the lookout for bills which they can attach language that would expand gambling and remove the loss limit under the cover of what seems to be a “safe” underlying bill.

One example of this deceptive practice of attaching language that would remove the loss limit to an otherwise inconspicuous piece of legislation, came to light this week. Rep. Michael Parson introduced HB 1864, which allows operators of excursion gambling boats to deposit checks on the next business day of the financial institution instead of within 24 hours. There is no inherent need for the change in law because the Missouri Gaming Commission already addressed this issue through regulation. There also appears to be no concerned party asking for such a change or demonstrating harm to the people of Missouri. HB 1864 seemed to merely be a “housekeeping bill” for most members of the House and thus passed on a vote of 138-13. This is not a surprising vote because there was nothing controversial in the bill while in the house. Once this bill arrived in the Senate though it was changed to fulfill its actual intent, to remove the $500 loss limit. It seems that the intention of the original sponsor of the bill was not to make this statutory change, but to use the bill as a vehicle for removing the $500 loss limit. To read all the details about HB 1864 and its current status, get the entire story at our news blog: http://casinowatch.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/hb-1864the-new-vehicle-for-removal-of-the-loss-limit/

This week members of the House Special Committee on General Laws heard testimony regarding HB 2416. Rep. Jane Cunningham introduced legislation (HB 2416) which would change the laws regarding dog fighting in Missouri. The steps taken in HB 2416 are a practical and responsible approach to not only keeping more animals from being endangered, but cutting back the financial motivation that fuels these dog fights, which comes in the form of illegal gambling by spectators. Casino Watch took the opportunity to speak and persuade members of the committee to pass this bill because of the influence it will have on curbing the illegal gambling involved with these fights. Rep. Cunningham’s legislation specifies that any person who is found guilty of a second or subsequent dog fighting offense will be guilty of a class D felony. This change directly impacts the spectators of these fights by raising a misdemeanor offense to a felony with more serious penalties. To read the full story about HB 2416 and hear audio comments from the bill sponsor Rep. Cunningham, visit our news blog:http://casinowatch.wordpress.com/2008/04/24/taking-aim-at-the-illegal-gambling-that-fuels-dog-fighting/

The Senate debated a variety of topics but did not bring up SB 1052 which would remove the loss limit. Even though the bill is currently on the Senate Informal Perfection Calendar and can be brought up for debate and a vote at any time, it has yet to be discussed. Time is of the essence, as leaders in the Senate who are in favor of removing the loss limit seem to be waiting for just the right time to catch our anti-gambling expansion supporters in the Senate off guard. The calls and emails of concerned constituents are making a big difference. Please visit our loss limit page and take action to let your voice be heard at: http://www.casinowatch.org/loss_limit/emerg_alert_3_5_07/emerg_alert_index.html

NEXT WEEK: We will continue working to defeat HB 1929, HB 1864 and SB 1052.

Bills currently being worked on:

SB988 Exempts Veterans, service, and fraternal organizations from bingo and pull tab taxes
SB1052 Loss Limit Removal
SB1171 Places a 2 year moratorium on casino licenses
HB1929 Empowers Gaming Commission Executive Director to levy fines
HB2420 Places a 3 year moratorium on casino licenses
HB2232 Limits the number of excursion gambling boat operator licenses
HB1813 Tax Exemption For Bingo
HB2416 Changes the laws regarding dog fighting
HB1864 Loss Limit Removal
HB1929 Excursion Gambling Boat Licensees
HB1357 Criminal Nonsupport
HB2043 Loss Limit Removal
HB1402 Compulsive Gamblers
HB1403 Excursion Gambling Boats
HB1682 Loss Limit Removal