February 20, 2017 Newsletter

Casino Embedded in “Immediate Action Needed!

Threat Percolating under the Gold Dome; Will Georgia get two casinos or six?
S.B. 79 and H.B. 158, as introduced, authorize two casinos.
S.R. 249 proposed constitutional amendment authorizes SIX!

S.R. 249, a proposed constitutional amendment dropped in the House hopper February 17th to be officially introduced February 20th, authorizes the General Assembly to license “no more than six” destination resorts (with embedded casinos) “at any given time.” Six casinos are three times the number of casinos authorized in the original versions of S.B. 79 and H.B. 158.

S.R. 249 prohibits all other forms of casino gaming, stating that the prohibition will be enforced by law. Proceeds from licensing, regulation, and taxing of casinos will be used for education after pay-outs, operating expenses, and addictive gambling prevention programs are funded.

Legalizing Casino Gambling could authorize Indian¹ Casinos in Georgia
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is a 1988 U.S. federal law that establishes the jurisdictional framework governing Indian gaming. There was no federal gaming structure before this Act (Pub. L. 100-497, 25 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), that established the following three gaming classes:
Class I gaming is defined as (1) traditional Indian gaming, that may be part of tribal ceremonies, and celebrations, and (2) social gaming for minimal prizes. Class 1 gaming regulatory authority is vested exclusively in tribal governments.
Class II gaming is a game of chance commonly known as bingo and, if played in the same location, includes card games that are played exclusively against other players rather than against the house or a player acting as a bank. The Act specifically excludes from the definition of class II games slot machines or electronic facsimiles of any game of chance.
Class III gaming is broad. It includes all forms of gaming that are neither class I nor II. Games commonly played at casinos, such as slot machines, blackjack, craps, and roulette, clearly fall in the class III category, as well as wagering games and electronic facsimiles of any game of chance. Generally, class III is often referred to as casino-style gaming. For Indian tribes to establish and operate casinos, the following conditions must be in place:
(a) Class III gaming must be permitted in the state.
(b) The tribe and state must have negotiated a compact with approved regulatory procedures.
(c) The Tribe must have a tribal gaming ordinance approved by the commission chairman.
A 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision was interpreted to allow states to address only “crimes and civil disputes” in tribal issues. That ruling opened the gates for the Indian gaming industry to become the most widely successful economic initiative on reservations across the country.

ACTION – OPPOSE S.B. 79 and S.R. 249. Vote expected by Thursday, February 23rd. Call Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee Senators Jeffares, Ch., 463-1376; Ginn, V-Ch., 404 656-4700; McKoon, Sec., 463-3931; Cowsert, 463-1366; Gooch, 656-9221; Harbison, 656-0074; Henson, 656-0085; Hill, 656-5038; Kennedy, 656-0045; Lucas, 656-5035; Miller, 656-7454; Mullis, 656-0057; Shafer, 656-0048; Unterman, 463-1368.

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February 15, 2013 Newsletter-Legislative Action Needed

House Rule 171.9
Without a Lobbyist Badge, Discussion
is Limited at the Capitol & CLOB

Rule 171.9 is not about crime and punishment for representatives or staff. It’s about limiting the constitutional freedom of speech for representatives and visitors at the Capitol and Coverdell Legislative Office Building. Rule 171.9 is as follows:

Rule 171.9. “No member of the House shall knowingly meet at the state capitol or Coverdell Office Building with any person who is required by the law of this State to register as a lobbyist to discuss the promotion or opposition of the passage of any legislation by the General Assembly or any committee thereof or the override of a veto unless such person either is wearing his or her valid special registered lobbyist badge or is a resident of the House district which such member represents.”

Although Rule 171.9 does not prohibit citizens from speaking with representatives, it forbids communication FROM representatives TO individuals who are not wearing a lobby badge … unless the individual and the representative live in the same district. Until now, individuals and representatives could freely communicate with each other and discuss political issues, with or without a lobbyist badge, regardless of where the individuals and representatives live.

On January 14th the Georgia House of Representatives passed H.R. 9, adopting its 52-page Rules, Ethics and Decorum for 2013, with 13 changes from 2012. Five rules from 2012 were deleted; seven amended; and a new one implemented – Rule 171.9, that made lobbyist badges mandatory, caused backlash from non-professionals who try to influence issues at the Capitol.

Rule 171.9 is listed under responsibilities of the seven Republicans and four Democrats on the House Ethics Committee1. Of those seven, four – the Majority Leader, the Minority Leader, the Majority Whip and the Minority Whip – comprise the preliminary inquiry subcommittee that first investigates reported ethical violations.

To expand an investigation, the subcommittee may retain paid or unpaid counsel and/or investigators, which the accused may do, likewise. In addition, the accused may cross examine accusers and obtain documents and materials offered in evidence. Representatives found guilty may be fined, censured or imprisoned or expelled. Expulsion requires a two-thirds House vote.

H.R. 9, implementing the new Rules, Ethics and Decorum of the House of Representatives for 2013, passed 118-57, revealing an almost total lock-step commitment to party. One Democrat and a lone Independent joined Republicans to pass it; two Democrats and a Republican failed to vote; and the two vacant seats in the House counted as failures to vote.

ACTION: To express your opinion about Rule 171.9 (a) call Speaker Ralston’s office at 404 656-5020.
b) Also, call Ethics Committee members:
Representatives Joe Wilkinson, Ch., 404 463-8143; Abrams, 404 656-5058; Buckner, 404 656-0116; Floyd, 404 656-0314; Hugley, 404 656-5058; Jan Jones, 404 656-5072; Lindsey, 404 656-5024; O’Neal, 404 656-5052; Ramsey, 404 656-5146; Sheldon, 404 656-5025;
Willard, 404 656-5125

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February 8, 2013 Radio Commentary

Rule 171.9 Muzzles Representatives

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, February 8, 2013 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

Good morning, Jim.  Since some legislators say they are entitled to unlimited gifts because they spend so much to get elected, last year’s ethics bill was dead-on-arrival.  Now, the Georgia House of Representatives has adopted a rule that limits participation in the legislative process for citizens that do not register for a lobby badge to wear at the capitol and legislative office building.  Currently, professional lobbyists must register, but volunteers don’t have to.

House Rule 171.9 restricts the freedom of speech in a back-handed way.  We’re told we can discuss legislation with any representative, and that’s technically true, but there’s a back side to that.  While we’re free to talk to them, House Rule 171.9 prohibits representatives from discussing issues with anyone who does not live within his House district, unless that person is wearing a lobby badge.

So, anyone can talk to or at a legislator till both are blue in the face, but House Rules prohibit representatives from responding or discussing or initiating a discussion about political issues with anyone who is not wearing a lobbyist badge.  That’s a two-edged sword.  It curtails the representatives’ freedom of speech and, by doing so, shuts down public input. Continue reading