Governor Steve Beshear renewed his call for a vote on expanded gambling in Kentucky during his 17 minute inaugural speech Tuesday on the front steps of the Kentucky State Capitol.
Beshear made bringing casino gambling to Kentucky a cornerstone of his campaign for a first term back in 2007, but failed to deliver when the Kentucky General Assembly gave the idea a luke warm response.
A video slots only bill did make it out of the Kentucky House one session, but was quickly stopped in a Senate committee.
During Tuesday’s speech Beshear called for “political courage” on two controversial issues. “A foundation which requires, as we come out of this recession, the restructuring of our tax system to make it more fair and efficient to meet the needs of our people,” Beshear said. “And a foundation which requires allowing the people of Kentucky to vote on expanded gaming within our borders."
"The Senate does need to act first on whatever direction they're going to take whether it be a constitutional amendment or whatever,” Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-House Majority Floor Leader, said of how the legislature should tackle the issue.
But, Senate President David Williams, who lost in the general election this fall to Beshear, said the onus is on the governor to take the issue to Kentuckians. "We'll see what the constitutional amendment has to say, it’s all in how he words it,” Williams, R-Burkesville, said after Beshear’s speech. “I would suggest that before he presents it to the House and Senate he needs to completely vet it to the public."
Williams says there’s “a level of distrust” in the House and Senate on the issue. He says if Beshear puts out a detailed position it will go forward.
The anti gambling group, The Family Foundation, quickly denounced the governor’s renewal of the controversial issue. “Big monied gambling interests have already disfigured our political process,” said Martin Cothran, The Family Foundation spokesman.