All signs still point to “no” if you ask me, but gambling legislation never goes quietly so it might look otherwise on the surface.
The quiet formation of a special Texas Senate subcommittee to consider a controversial casino gambling resolution has sparked a behind-the-scenes fight that could affect passage of the state budget and school finance legislation .
Three senators said several colleagues have discussed the possibility of voting against the state budget, amid the questions. They did not want to be identified because those discussions were private.
“I’m afraid that this gambling issue is being raised and it could hold the schoolchildren of Texas hostage so the gambling interests can get their issue passed,” said Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. “I am fully prepared to talk about this issue for a long time. It would really be wrong to use gambling money to finance public education in this state.”
Five senators confirmed Monday that the new panel formed Thursday by the Senate State Affairs Committee to hear a gambling resolution by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, quickly triggered concerns from GOP senators about whether the move was a prelude by proponents of casinos to shoehorn the issue into legislative discussions about how to pay for Senate-proposed changes in financing public schools — expected to cost about $4 billion more than the House version.
Ellis said Monday that he has withdrawn his request for a hearing, leaving the new panel with nothing to do.
“I can see the handwriting on the wall,” Ellis said. “I don’t think this is the right time to try to advance this. I can see I don’t have the votes.”
Seems like a lot of sound and fury to me. There’s some suspicion that a few Senators might vote against the budget, or at least threaten to, unless a gambling bill gets passed, but I don’t think it will come to that. Anything can still happen up to the point where a budget passes, but I don’t see it for gambling. The point I raised before the session began, that this Legislature is inherently less friendly to gambling than the previous Lege was, still stands. I have yet to see any statement from a known gambling opponent who is now willing to reconsider. Maybe in the next Legislature.