Sen. Damon Thayer

Sen. Damon Thayer

Anne M. Eberhardt

Thayer: Senate Vote Must Respect Kentuckians

Gaming bill could be called for vote with two Kentucky senators absent.

A Kentucky senator who chairs a committee that passed a constitutional amendment on expanded gambling Feb. 22 said he will oppose a call to have the bill voted on by the full Senate Feb. 23.

Republican Sen. Damon Thayer, who chairs the Senate State and Local Government Committee, said he was told by Democratic Sen. R.J. Palmer that two Democratic members of the Senate will not be present Feb. 23 to vote on the bill. Thayer said he was told by the press Republican Sen. President David Williams has called a vote for Feb. 23 despite the expected absence of the two Democratic senators.
The gaming amendment, which calls for up to seven casinos but not necessarily at racetracks, passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee Feb. 22 on a bipartisan 7-4 vote.
Thayer, on the evening following the committee action, said all he wants is a legitimate vote on the bill.
“Kentuckians deserve all members to be present and accounted for to vote on this bill,” Thayer said. “This is an important issue. Anything else is an attempt to kill the bill.”
Thayer and Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear have worked together on the gaming amendment, which figures to be modified as it works its way through the process. Both have said the best way to resolve the drag-out issue of expanded gambling is to have a statewide referendum.
It’s expected there will be floor amendments offered on the casino bill.
Williams, who is pushing for the Feb. 23 vote, ran for governor last November and lost to Beshear by 20 percentage points. Beshear has said a vote on expanded gambling is a priority, in particular to aid the struggling signature horse industry in Kentucky.