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No to Casinos, Yes to Cap on Gifts to Legislators

How are we supposed to feel safe with the government or a quasi-government board overseeing casinos when they can't control ethics in government?

In the Primary Election on July 31, the voters requesting a Republican ballot will have five non-binding straw poll questions to determine the opinion of the voters.

I view the five questions on the ballot dealing with public policy issues from a moral perspective. Question number 1 is: “Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?” My answer for this question will be no. Across the country there is a major push taking place to increase gambling outlets. Like a fast food restaurant being placed on every corner, the marketing concept is the more outlets, the more money can be raked into the accounts of the casino owners. We are supposed to feel safe, however, with the promise that the government or a quasi-government board will oversee the business of the casino. Laws are broken every day. Other states have found that as they allow more gambling, problems increase with law enforcement, property tax issues (Missouri is battling that issue now), unwanted businesses are opened, and somehow the promised windfall profit for the education fund never lives up to the promise.

When the issue of expanding gambling comes up, a promise of jobs and money always leads the way. We already know that an exclusive contract is signed with one gambling operation with the headquarters being out of state. It seems the education card is always used when someone wants to sucker the citizens into playing a game of chance. The gambling promoters are betting on hitting the jackpot with the money they can make off of those who least can afford to play their games of chance. We were told that the lottery would assure that several generations of children would have a free college education, only now to see it is not happening. The idea is if a little gambling did not work, all we need is more gambling and we will win the big prize. The big winner is the casino owner, not the duped public.

The second question on the straw poll is: “Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100.00 cap on such gifts?” I am on record as being in favor of this question. In fact, I do not think this goes far enough. I have been an advocate for genuine ethical reform from the first day I began tracking the activity under the Gold Dome. I am in favor of moving the cap to zero, not allowing any gifts to legislators. With a pay raise for all the members of the House and Senate in Georgia, we could know that we are getting what we pay for and the citizens would have the greater amount of influence over their elected leaders. Each voter in the Republican Primary Election will have the chance to vote on each of the five questions. From where I stand, I will vote no on question one and yes on question two.

Follow Ray Newman on Twitter @RayNewmanSr

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