01 June 2005

Bush wants special session to clean up GOP mess on slots

Last month, Florida legislators departed Tallahassee with a great deal of the people's work left undone. One issue that was derailed during the annual GOP legislative train wreck was new regulations on slot machines in South Florida, which were required to be passed by the state constitution. Now, Governor Jeb Bush wants state legislators to return to Tallahassee to handle the slots issue. Whether this will happen is unknown at this time.

Last November, voters narrowly passed a constitutional amendment that allows voters in two South Florida counties to decide if their pari-mutuels may install slot machines. Amendment Four was billed as the knight in shining armor for education, with proponents claiming that Florida's public schools would gain hundreds of millions of new dollars per year. The governor, the religious right, and anti-gambling groups opposed the initiative, but it eventually passed with 50.8% of the vote. The amendment then required that the two affected counties hold separate referenda to decide whether the slots could be installed. Governor Bush again campaigned heavily against the issue. Broward County approved the installation of slot machines, but Miami-Dade voted against. The next step was for the Florida Legislature to create necessary regulations for slot machines, but intra-party bickering within the GOP prevented anything from passing.

Following his efforts during the session to obstruct any meaningful slots legislation, Governor Bush is now calling for a special session so that the Florida Legislature can meet their constitutional requirement by setting standards for slots in pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Section 23 of Article X of the state constitution requires that the Legislature pass implementing legislation "no later" than July 1, 2005. Since the Republicans in Tallahassee dropped the ball last month, pandemonium is now breaking out in South Florida.

First in order to pander to religious conservatives, Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale) called for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to revoke the license of any pari-mutuels who installs slot machines before implementing legislation is passed by politicians in Tallahassee. Then three pari-mutuels from Broward County have gone to court in order to get the green light on slots, while opponents have also filed lawsuits.

Florida Republicans have caused a mess in the Sunshine State, and as usual, it will be the state's citizens who pay for it. Special sessions have been estimated to cost $40,000 per day, so a week in Tallahassee could cost Florida's taxpayers nearly a quarter of a million dollars. This fiscal irresponsibility is the result of special interest groups gaining too much control in the capitol. The religious right, who has become the tail that wags the GOP dog, strongly opposes gambling, even when it would benefit education. This extreme wing of the party has forced the Grand Ole Party to abandon the principles of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and instead embrace big government solutions for social problems. It's a shame for the Republicans, but more importantly, it's a shame for Florida. Let's just hope that if Governor Bush does call a special session, he can get his party to do the right thing this time.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw that Gov. Bush had an interesting visitor last week (Thursday, May 26) on his public schedule: Former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci.

What makes that interesting?

Gov. Cellucci left his post as ambassador to Canada to take a position as executive vice-president of corporate development with Magna Entertainment Corp.
(See: http://www.cbc.ca/story/business/national/2005/03/18/magna-050318.html)

Who is Magna Entertainment Corp? According to a story posted here at this web site:

http://www.equestrianmag.com/news/cellucci-public-service-horse-racing.html

"MEC is North America's number one owner and operator of horse racetracks, based on revenues, acquires, develops and operates horse racetracks and related pari-mutuel wagering operations, including off-track betting facilities. Additionally, MEC owns and operates XpressBet(R), a national Internet and telephone account wagering systems, and Horse Racing TV(TM), a 24-hour horse racing television network."

According to a press release from MEC posted at http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=98631&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=683305&highlight=

"MEC owns Gulfstream Park, a licensed pari-mutuel facility that has conducted live racing during each of the last two years in Broward County."

Is it a coincidence that, just days after that meeting, Florida's anti-gambling governor is now pushing for a special session on slots?

6:02:00 PM  
Blogger james H said...

Good stuff anonymous. Do you have a source for Bush's meeting with Gov. Cellucci? Either a link to an article or last week's calendar or both. Your sourcing on the other issues was great.

If you have links, please send them to floridapolitix@yahoo.com or post them here.

Thanks.

7:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can find the governor's daily schedule/calendar at:

http://www.myflorida.com/owa_myflorida/owa/myflorida_www.calendar_main.calen_main

The governor's calendar is changed every day and there is no archive.

This is all I pulled off of Gov. Bush's May 26, 2005 daily calendar:

03:15 PM - 03:45 PM

MEETING WITH GOVERNOR PAUL CELLUCCI
Location: Governor's Office

10:58:00 AM  
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