How’s this for obnoxious interference? Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the Democrat majority leader and all-around annoying stooge, attempted to pass legislation in December to allow Native American tribes to open casinos in Texas. Politico posted the story a couple of days ago. The bill was mercifully killed by lack of action, but the audacity certainly stings.
Reid is a likely candidate for the title of “Gambling’s Best Friend,” though he’d certainly have competition if he came down to Texas for a bit. This effort, while it ultimately went nowhere, does reinforce the idea that Washington’s increasing animosity towards Texans doesn’t stop at gun control and the Voting Rights Act. Reid is the senior senator from a state in significantly worse financial shape than Texas, where last year the unemployment rate at one point was the worst in the nation, and the housing market was too terrible to allow citizens to flee easily. The climate in Reid’s home state needs attention, and he was more interested in pursuing legalizing gambling in Texas. The question to ask is, why?
It isn’t likely that Reid’s attempt was serious – it happened mostly under the radar and someone with Reid’s political power in Washington wouldn’t have a hard time passing something he was actually passionate about. So what was it, then? More than likely, a test balloon of sorts for expanding state-sponsored (in this case, tribe-sponsored) gambling where it is not already prevalent, and possibly a fundraising mechanism for gambling proponents here at home. Certainly, had it gained traction, such legislation would come up against Texas law and create an interesting impasse.
We know state-sponsored gambling proponents are hard at work in Texas. Just today, Let Texans Decide announced the support of several local chambers of commerce, in their effort to bring forward a constitutional amendment to approve gambling in Texas (Jan Shedd wrote about Let Texans Decide back in November). Remember, a Texas constitutional amendment, while requiring a 2/3 majority in both legislative chambers, is not subject to gubernatorial veto and goes straight to Texans for a vote, and the pass rate of such amendments is quite high due in large part to voter apathy and lack of education. Such an amendment is folly from the start, and the Legislature is the first line of defense.
It is definitely something fiscal conservatives should concern themselves with. This is not about the freedom to gamble, and it isn’t about personal responsibility. It’s about a fiscal boondoggle that could seriously harm local economies and ultimately lay a significant burden on several portions of the state’s budget (Health and Human Services, Department of Public Safety, and more). Reid’s bill had the added bonus of laying those problems on Native American tribes (notwithstanding tribes’ stance on the issue, the problems with government-sponsored gambling remain). Texans cannot let their attention be divided from this issue.
(P.S. – Contact Senator Reid and tell him “hands off” Texas. Under no circumstances should this issue resurface in Washington)