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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Debating our priority bills

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Last week, we began debate on priority bills. Senators have until this Friday to designate one bill as their priority for this session. This Friday is also the deadline to request speaker priority bill designations from Speaker Mike Flood.

This week, I would like to discuss LR 292, introduced by Sen. Fulton, and LB 1102 introduced by Sen. Giese.

Legislative Resolution 292 is a resolution, which memorializes the Congress of the United States to adhere to the principles of Federalism expressed in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

The Ninth Amendment states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The Tenth Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Many people are very concerned about what they are seeing coming out of Washington, D.C. lately. For example, the takeover of GM, the stimulus package that burdened the next generation with an enormous amount of debt, the bailout of banks, and most recently, this administration's attempt in its healthcare reform to take over a large sector of the economy and mandate health coverage, powers never given to it in the Constitution.

I see this as a very serious issue that needs to be addressed by the states. This resolution is a good start on our road to restore the proper Constitutional balance between the Federal Government and the states. LR 292 will be heard in the Government, Military, and Veteran Affairs Committee on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 19.

Legislative Bill 1102 is a bill that would allow what supporters call Instant Racing Terminals at current licensed horseracing tracks in the state. The Judiciary Committee heard this bill last Wednesday. These machines would allow you to bet on historic horse races in a video gaming format. This is the third bill since 2005 to propose pari-mutuel wagering on historic horse races.

There are many concerns with this bill. One being the expansion of gambling in Nebraska, which the people of Nebraska have defeated each time it has been put before them. Another concern is the nature of these machines, which closely resemble video slot machines, with the ability to make two bets per minute.

In addition, other states, such as Maryland and Wyoming, have concluded that Instant Racing Terminals are not pari-mutuel wagering as they have been pitched. My personal opinion is that they have a lot in common with video slot machines. This brings into question what type of gambling we would really be expanding and, whether it is legal under our current laws.

However, the largest concern I have is how this will affect Nebraska families. The addictive nature of video gaming is well documented, causing bankruptcies and the destruction of families. It is my opinion that the gambling industry preys on those who can least afford it and state legislatures use it as a way to tax those same people. Video gambling is not what Nebraska needs.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding bills or any other issue, please call my office at 402-471-2805 or for more information. You can view my legislative Web site at http://news.legislature. ne.gov/dist44/

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State Sen. Mark Christensen
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