We Did It!

14 Years of PROTECTING the $500 LOSS LIMIT
in the MO Legislature

Our special thanks to:
Evelio Silvera, Executive Director
Joseph Day, Director of Research and Analysis
The Missouri Teen Eagles
Missouri Family Network
Missouri Eagle Forum
Concerned Women of America
All the Missouri Legislators who chose the Welfare of the People
above the casino agenda

Missouri Legislative Report
Evelio Silvera, Executive Director
May 12 - 16, 2008

End of the 2008 Missouri Legislative Session

No matter how much or how little is accomplished during the weeks leading up to the final days of the legislative session, there always seems to be a frenetic and hectic pace that is unique to the closing days and hours.

As we entered the final week of the legislative session many questions were still unanswered as to the priority that would be placed on legislation to expand gambling and remove the loss limit in the Missouri Senate. With two bills waiting on the calendar it seemed that the Senate would have to act quickly on several other pending issues to even have time to debate gambling legislation and then vote on it. The conventional political wisdom seemed to be that the clock had simply run out on attempts by the casino industry to remove the $500 loss limit.

On Monday afternoon as the final week started it seemed that time was on our side. Legislative debates in the House and Senate focused on issues such as taxation, immigration, and the village law. It became clear that if the casino industry were to be successful it would have to find a piece of legislation that seemed to be moving ahead in both chambers which could carry a loss limit removal as an amendment. We immediately began researching possible bills that could be amended with a loss limit removal. It became clear that the casino industry would probably use their favorite cover for gambling expansion…education issues!

After productive meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with several legislators in the House and Senate and lobbyists representing education and pro-family interests it was verified that the gambling special interests were looking for an education bill to make their devious loss limit removal amendment. The most likely place would be in the Senate where Sen. Rob Mayer was carrying a House bill that dealt with a variety of issues pertaining to elementary and secondary education.

Many legislators who were made aware of the possible casino amendment were determined to fight against it and were armed with a variety of talking points thanks to the effectiveness of our “Casino Watch Policy Briefs.

As the Senate discussed Sen. Mayer’s education bill, both Republican and Democrats offered a variety of amendments. In the midst of the barrage of amendments, Sen. Jeff Smith attempted to offer the loss limit removal amendment on behalf of the casino industry. Quickly several Senators rose to make a point of order against the loss limit removal amendment. Sen. Tim Green was recognized and the point of order was made and directed to Senate President Pro-Tem Sen. Mike Gibbons for a decision. After some deliberation, Sen. Gibbons met with Sen. Smith in the back of the chamber and it appeared the point of order would be “well taken” meaning the amendment would not be allowed, so instead Sen. Smith withdrew his amendment from consideration. After the Senate quit on Thursday evening it was clear that Missouri families were safe for another year as the loss limit would not be removed.

As the General Assembly closed the 2008 legislative session there was a sense of relief that the gambling special interests had been defeated yet again in their attempts to expand gambling and remove the loss limit. That relief however is short lived as we face a long and expensive campaign against the casino industry funded “Yes for Schools First Initiative” that will be on the ballot this November in order to persuade Missourians into removing the $500 loss limit and expand gambling. The bottom line is simply this: when the facts are clearly presented and legislators are not persuaded by gifts and campaign contributions the gambling special interests don’t stand a chance.