SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Tabled for yet another year. Last-minute legislation trying to get a measure allowing casinos dies in committee this Crossover Day in Atlanta.
Earlier in the legislative session, the Georgia Senate version of the casino bill also failed to make it out of committee. The opposition scrambled Friday morning after word that a house casino gambling bill had been submitted last night for a Crossover Day review by the House Regulated Industries Committee.
Members of the Faith and Freedom Commission and their supporters gathered this morning for an impromptu news conference, not mincing words while sharing their opinion of some lawmakers attempts to get a House vote on the newly introduced House Bill 158.
GA State Senator Josh McKoon said during the conference that he has never seen a more gross abuse of process with respect to the introduction of the casino gaming bill.
"If you want to know why the public does not trust their government, and why they don't trust their elected officials, it is because of behavior like this," said State Sen. McKoon.
Bill sponsor, Representative Ron Stephens of Savannah, says the bill at least deserved consideration in the House, in large part because of the potential role of casino money could play with the Hope Scholarship.
"It's one of those things that's actually a no-brainer. And we need to decide. We're either going to do this, or we're not. And if we're not, let's make gambling illegal," said Rep. Stephens.
Stephens pointed out that no bill was introduced on either the House or Senate side to make gambling illegal, which he says would kill Hope Scholarship and most Pre-K funding.
Opponents of casino gambling in Georgia pointed to the economic argument, saying casino revenues eventually wear off, creating a huge deficit for states to overcome.
Rep. Stephens says he will continue to push the issue, like he has for several years until they can get the vote. He adds he feels confident he'll see support locally from voters the next time the proposal comes around.