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No more excuses -- fix the slots law

| Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2004

Our state legislators are paid to make laws, but what they're really good at is making excuses.

As a result, the provision to bar lawmakers from owning part of a gambling-related business has still not passed the House of Representatives -- and it may not any time soon.

The problem began three months ago when a law was passed legalizing slot machines in Pennsylvania. The legislation permitted public officials to own up to 1 percent of a financial stake in a gambling company.

Both parties quickly backtracked when that provision came to light, and quick action was promised to correct it. On Oct. 7, The Senate passed a bill overturning the provision, along with expanding the attorney general's enforcement powers over a newly formed gambling commission and taking away the commission's powers to override local zoning ordinances.

But the bill remains stalled in the House, where Republican leaders say they are working on "technical corrections."

This seems like a great issue for Democrats to seize on heading into an election, but House Minority Leader H. William DeWeese said last week that action on the measure "could wait until hell froze over." His party supports the ownership ban, but views the other provisions as an attempt to delay the overall package.

With both parties dragging their feet -- and an election coming in two weeks -- don't expect action anytime soon. The deadline to pass an amended bill is Nov. 30. The public needs to keep political pressure on to make sure it gets done.

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