Floor speech in oposition to Legalizing Card Room gambling HB 272
Well, Mr. Speaker, here we go again. It’s near the end of the session, only a few days to go, and everybody’s busy doing what we should be doing: trying to fund education and repair broken down schools, trying to cut the cost of workers compensation, trying to cut PERS/STRS costs and still protect state workers, and did I forget – trying to get our operating and capital budgets passed.
But guess what. Here comes another “hurry hurry” gambling bill. This year it’s the “hurry hurry” card room bill. Last year, it was the “hurry hurry” casino bill. It must be springtime. Leaves are coming out, squirrels are chasing each other, and gambling bills start flying. It’s like energizer bunnies get uncontrollable urges to pass gambling bills
, when the session’s about to end.
Apparently, the end of session is a good time of the year to push gambling bills when we are busy, so they can fly under the public radar - gambling bills that haven’t had since January to run a gauntlet of a pesky riled up public, at public hearings.
We are told we illegal card rooms are popular, so we should legalize card rooms. Should legalize everything that’s popular, simply it’s popular? I don’t think so. I hope not.
We are told illegal card rooms are already in operation, so we might as well legalize them, and make money on something that’s going on anyway. Well, prostitution is going on anyway, and crack drug sales are going on anyway, and burglaries are going on anyway, and all kinds of illegal things are going on anyway. So should we legalize something, just because it’s going on anyway, and just because the state can make a buck at the expense a healthy community? I hope not.
We are told legalized card rooms would be limited to boroughs with a population of more than 30,000. That’s 8 or 9 card rooms in Anchorage, 2 or 3 in Fairbanks, one or two in the Matsu, 1 in Kenai, 1 card room in Juneau.
Why the 30,000 population, I hear you ask? If it’s so good for city folks, why isn’t it good for village folks? Why not every place with a moose in Alaska? Why are we discriminating against people who don’t have 30,000 neighbors? Surely people in the villages have just as much right, and are just as responsible, to enjoy legalized card rooms, and bring revenue to the state, as everyone else. But not so under this bill. That’s not fair.
Well, we are told that places with less than 30,000 couldn’t support card rooms anyway. Maybe that’s true. Well, maybe we could require Certificates of Need to open card rooms. How about that for an idea? But that wouldn’t make any sense – but then what part of this bill does make any sense?
We are told the card rooms would create jobs. Well, so do houses of ill repute, and so do crack houses. Are these the kind of jobs we want, or need in Alaska? Should public schools stop teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic, and teach kids how to operate card rooms? Of course not. That’s silly. But it does point out some of the problems with this bill.
Is there anyone in the body who wants to go back to our districts in a couple weeks, and proudly proclaim, “What a wonderful job we did in the 24th Legislature. We legalized card rooms! Wow! Aren’t you glad you elected us.” Do you want that on your next campaign flyer?
If had more time, I’d tell you what I really think about this bill. The card room bill is a bad bill, just say no.