February 27, 2017
Instead of being honest, State Legislators come up with all sorts of ingenious names for bills that lead the public to believe the bills they are voting on or want us to vote on are about something completely different. This year the “Casino Gambling” bill is called the “Destination Resort” bill.
Don Cole has written a great article about how the Georgia Legislators are trying to fool us. The Political Vine also has an article about the money the lobbyist are giving (bribing) certain legislators. Supposedly, the citizens will be allowed to vote on this, but only after the wording is fixed to make you think you are voting one way, when you will really vote for the opposite thing.
Casinos and the Constitution
The Georgia legislature is considering a bill commonly referred to as the Destination Resort bill. Senate Bill 79 and House Bill 158 are clones. This allows introduction and consideration of the same bill on parallel tracks in both House and Senate.
The Act is 28 pages long. The title alone is 163 words (lines 1-12). The title explains that the Act establishes a gaming commission, authorizes licensing for up to two destination resorts, licenses suppliers and certain employees, regulates certain gaming activities, provides for fees and taxes and their distribution, enforcement of certain credit instruments, and provides for a contingent effective date.
There is a key phrase in the title of the bill that is important. At the end of the title are these words: “to provide for a contingent effective date.”
The word “contingent” indicates that some prerequisite action must take place. The law cannot become effective until the contingent event. If it does not happen, then the law never becomes effective. Understanding this will help you understand some of the answers you may hear from your legislators if you ask about the bill.
Section 2 of the bill on the final page describes the events necessary for the contingent effective date. The entire section is two sentences. Sentence 1 tells what must happen before the bill becomes law. Sentence 2 tells what happens to this bill if Sentence 1 does not happen.
This Act shall become effective on January 1, 2019, provided that a constitutional amendment is passed by the General Assembly and ratified by the voters at the 2018 November general election which authorizes casino gambling in this state. Otherwise, this Act shall be repealed by operation of law on January 1, 2019.
The act becomes effective on January 1, 2019 if the Georgia Constitution is amended. As an aside note, understand that the legislature is openly considering an unconstitutional bill to raise taxes. They are sure hungry for that tax money to feed the government monster.
There are two critical steps to amending the Georgia Constitution. The first is that a resolution to amend the Constitution must pass by 2/3 of both houses. If that high hurdle is successful, then the voters must ratify the constitution.
So, let me offer some guidance and understanding on what you will likely hear and how you can question your legislator. The first is that the “Destination Resort” bill is 28 pages describing a gaming commission, games of chance, slot machines, game tables, gaming equipment, and so on.
First how about a short title? “A Bill to Authorize and Regulate Casino Gambling in Georgia”
Second, why is the legislature considering bill that is unconstitutional and it raises taxes? They should first address amending the Constitution?
Third, where is the Constitutional Amendment referred to in Section 2? I have yet to see it and I am interested to see the clever work of the political wordsmiths.
Expect something like this: “Shall the Constitution be amended to provide for Destination Resorts in Georgia?” That way everyone will think they are moving Disney World to Georgia.
There is also one important thing for which to listen. You will likely hear your representative say something like, “I am voting to let the people decide.”
This is a disingenuous statement if not a flat out lie. The Constitution was deliberately made difficult to amend. There are three high hurdles that must be met. First is the hurdle of 2/3 of the House. Second is the hurdle of 2/3 of the Senate. If those first two hurdles are met, then the constitution requires that the people have the final check and balance on the legislature.
No member of the legislature is “letting” anyone decide. They are voting to amend the Constitution. They are then asking the people to approve their action by ratifying it.
I am contacting my Representative, Buddy Harden 404.656.7855 and my State Senator Greg Kirk (404) 463-5258 asking them to vote NO on these bills and to vote NO on whatever resolution is prepared to amend the Constitution.
Our legislators understand the process of amending the Constitution. They understand and know their role in that process.
If they are for casinos in Georgia, then be honest, take a stand for casinos, and vote that way. If they do not think that casinos are in Georgia’s best interest, then be honest and don’t buy the line of the professional politicians and lobbyists under the dome that they are “letting” me decide.
They are not “letting” me decide. The Constitution limits their power to decide without the people giving approval to what they decided.
Be honest. Do your job. Do not abdicate your responsibility. Take a clear, unmistakable position on casino gambling in Georgia. Vote that way. Then, if the amendment gets on the ballot, come back your constituents and ask them to follow your lead.
Winner-Winner, Chicken Dinner!
Rumors have it that casino interests have poured-in upwards of $450 million to various Georgia political interests. For a full report, browse this compiled PDF to see who, of our illustrious political leaders, has been bribed* with casino-contributions.
Note that PV did not employ the term “bribery” as that is defined in the Official Code of Georgia (under OCGA 16-10-2) as being an illegal act in Georgia.
BUT…cash money being given by entities like MGM Resorts, Boyd Gaming, and Elite Casino Resorts, three entities NOT located in the State of Georgia in any capacity (other than being represented by lobbyists who are registered as such in the State of Georgia) as contributions to elected legislators and political entities still classifies those dollar amounts as “bribes” according to standard dictionary definitions (see below).
Now, whether the Legislature passes legislation out of this session (or any other session) remains to be seen, but one ponders how easy it is for someone like, say Sen. Brandon Beach, who once filled-out a survey expressing his objection to bringing casino gambling to Georgia, to change his mind after receiving $7000 in total bribes and now becoming the leading sponsor of legislation to bring casinos to Georgia.
Speaking of lobbyists…and swamp-draining, let’s turn to the race for Ga GOP Chairman…
Introducing John Watson, Casino Lobbyist
Rumors have it that on the campaign trail for the next Georgia GOP Chair, Candidate John Watson has been personally taking the opportunity whenever he can to promote casino gambling in Georgia, going so far as to state in GOP gatherings that (paraphrasing here) “Oh yes! I believe casino gambling would be great for Georgia and I want it on the ballot, and everyone in here should vote for it!”
By any chance, did Mr. Watson disclose that he is on the payroll, as a lobbyist, for Boyd Gaming Corporation, a company that has given bribes totaling $22,000 to political and legislative interests in Georgia? Did he disclose that fact?
PV is fairly certain Watson did not bother to make such a disclosure because that would imply he’s an honest, non-swamp-dwelling person, and disclosing such a fact that he is actually getting paid to lobby whenever and wherever he can to drum-up support for casinos would be akin to engaging in honesty…something a lot of folks are loath to do these days.
One should wonder how, if Watson were to win the chairmanship, he would run the party? You can bet that with this one instance of failing to disclose that he is a paid lobbyist for Boyd Gaming, and thus why he is all for casino gambling, he will likely engage in many more self-serving, duplicitous acts as Chairman as he does in simply running for this seat.
*A “bribe,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is:
“1) money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust.
2) something that serves to induce or influence.”
The Political Vine was established on July 24, 2000 by Georgia Republican activist Bill Simon. All material contained herein (unless otherwise noted) is written by a commonsense political thinker whose agenda is to deliver researched facts, analysis, information, humor, and opinions in a satirical/sarcastic environment that is far different from any other news source you will come across.
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