Monthly Archives: March 2007

Kansas House Takes a Chance on Destination Casinos
This past Monday, the Kansas House approved a destination-based casino gaming bill, Senate Bill 66, on Final Action by a vote of 64-58.  Passage of the bill followed a rather lengthy (and sometimes heated) debate that focused on such issues as state-owned casinos, the financial devastation associated with gambling addiction, and the percentage of revenue to be received by the state.  I voted for the bill.
This is a most serious issue with significant consequences for our state and its citizens.  If casinos were not already operating both within Kansas and on its borders, I would be voting “No” against any bill introducing casino gambling in Kansas as I believe the resulting fallout on human lives is not worth it.  But given the fact that these businesses ARE already here, this bill offers the state a very practical approach for securing much-needed revenues with little additional downside risk to its citizens.  These monies can then be put towards property tax relief, Regents universities building maintenance projects and vital state services.  And in a state where any type of tax increase is generally hated, that’s important.
Bill background: Senate Bill 66, as passed by the House, would create four gaming zones (Wyandotte County, Crawford / Cherokee Counties, Sedgwick / Sumner counties, and Ford County).  The Kansas Lottery would be responsible for considering and approving proposed gaming facilities management contracts for establishing destination-based casinos in these zones.  An approved casino contract would then be submitted to the proposed host county’s voters for their approval or disapproval.  If approved, the state would receive up front a gaming privilege fee of $25,000,000 for each non-Ford County site approval and a privilege fee of $5,500,000 for a Ford County site approval.  The state would also receive not less than 22 percent of the gaming revenues to the state.  The Kansas Lottery would also be responsible for considering and approving proposed racetrack gaming contracts for the state’s three horse and greyhound pari-mutuel race tracks.  A maximum of 2,200 slot machines would be allowed at all locations.  The state would receive up front $2,500 for each slot machine as well as 40% of all race track slot revenues.  The state could eventually receive up to $200 million annually from the casinos and race tracks.  Also, an additional 2% of the revenues (approximately $17 million) would be set aside for the Problem Gambling and Addictions Fund.  This fund would be used for treating gambling addiction, alcoholism, and other addictive behaviors.
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Thank you for letting me serve as your State Representative. I always appreciate knowing where you stand on the issues our state is currently facing. I can be reached at (785) 296-7668 (daytime) or (785) 865-2786 (evenings).  My e-mail address is holland@house.state.ks.us. Also, if you would like to be added to my e-mail newsletter mailing list, please send me your e-mail address.

In an effort to curb employment of illegal aliens and 1099 misclassification, I added an amendment to a bill that would crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.  Unfortunately, the measure was voted back to committee and will not be addressed during this cycle.  You can read more about the legislation here.

Holding Politicians and the Ballot Box Accountable
I’ll let you in on a deep, dark secret about your 10th District State Representative – the guy flat out loves campaigning.  Whether going door to door talking to constituents, meeting and greeting folks at town forums, or waving to the Maple Leaf parade crowds from the perch of my 1949 Model B John Deere, I truly enjoy the campaign season.  It’s a time for visiting local fairs and events and catching up with acquaintances.  It’s a time for great food and drink.  But most importantly, it’s a time for engaging others and finding out what they think are the critical issues of the day.
Given that backdrop, however, I must also tell you that there are a couple of things about Kansas elections that I am not particularly fond of: 1) electronic voting machines and 2) political “robo” calls.  Let’s talk about the robo calls first.  Given the strong outcry from citizens across the state following the November 2006 elections, I (along with many other Kansas legislators) introduced bills to get rid of those annoying automated calls that seemed to tie up household telephone lines the entire week-end prior to the election.  I do believe there will be a significant reduction, if not outright elimination, of these types of calls during the next election cycle.  But I also believe that a much more potentially devastating situation exists that has had very little publicity.  And that concerns our state’s use of electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper audit trail.
Kansas is one of 15 states that use electronic voting machines in at least one jurisdiction that do not require a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).  A VVPAT is a device that produces a paper record of each electronic ballot that can be reviewed by the voter prior to submitting his / her ballot.  House Bill 2259, a bill I introduced earlier this session, would require county elections offices that use electronic voting machines to be equipped with a VVPAT no later than January 1st, 2008.  The bill would also prohibit the Secretary of State from purchasing any electronic voting machines that do not include VVPATS and from spending any funds on electronic voting machines unless they are equipped with VVPATs.
I have submitted this legislation in response to highly publicized problems with electronic voting machines; the most recent event occurred in Sarasota, Florida where there were 18,000 undervotes in the Congressional election this past fall.  In another example, a report on the May 2006 primary election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio from the Election Science Institute found the electronic voting machines’ four sources of vote totals — individual ballots, paper trail summary, election archives and memory cards — didn’t even match up. The totals were all different, and the report concluded that relying on the current system for Cuyahoga County’s more than 1.3 million people should be viewed as “a calculated risk.”  And these problems are not simply recent phenomena; during the 2004 presidential election, one voting machine in a Columbus, Ohio, suburb reportedly added nearly 3,900 additional votes to President Bush’s total. Officials caught the machine’s error only because 638 voters cast presidential ballots at that precinct.
We must do everything in our powers to restore the public’s confidence in the voting process by helping to ensure that every vote cast is recorded accurately.  Kansans that vote on electronic voting machines deserve to have a paper audit trail.  Only then will they know that their vote has truly counted.
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Thank you for letting me serve as your State Representative. I always appreciate knowing where you stand on the issues our state is currently facing. I can be reached at (785) 296-7668 (daytime) or (785) 865-2786 (evenings).  My e-mail address is holland@house.state.ks.us. Also, if you would like to be added to my e-mail newsletter mailing list, please send me your e-mail address.

Paid for by Tom Holland for Kansas Senate
Kris Marsh, Treasurer