* This was not unexpected…
A House panel Wednesday dumped an 11th-hour bid to expand gambling in Illinois.
The measure, which would have added five casinos and allowed horse racing tracks to offer slot machines, failed to receive enough votes to emerge from the House Executive Committee.
The loss came just days after Gov. Pat Quinn said he didn’t support a massive expansion of gambling, despite the lure of as much as $1.5 billion in added revenue for the cash-strapped state.
The plan would have used the proceeds to pay down the state’s lengthy list of unpaid bills.
* Here’s why it was not unexpected…
Lang blamed the downfall on a provision requiring tracks to reach peace agreements with organized labor. Republicans on the panel all voted against it.
The labor provision was opposed by Arlington Park Racecourse, which is attempting to reach a compromise with food-service workers over representation of additional workers that would be required for turning the racetrack into a “racino.” Arlington had long sought the OK to bring slot machines to the racetrack, but said it would oppose the bill mandating such agreements.
Lang said labor peace agreements had already been worked out among the rest of the state’s horse racing tracks. He said he would either work to encourage a labor settlement or seek other changes in the bill to allow it to advance before the legislature’s scheduled adjournment at month’s end.
What’s a labor peace agreement? From the bill…
A “labor peace agreement” is an agreement in which the labor organization waives the rights of itself and its members to strike, picket, or otherwise boycott the operation for at least 3 years.
Anyway, that language will likely be pulled from the legislation today and reintroduced. Expect Mayor Emanuel to become more involved if and/or when this bill advances to the floor…
“Mayor Emanuel has been upfront about his support for gaming,” Lang said. “I think he’s prepared to convince some fence-sitting legislators it’s the right thing to do.”
* What the bill contains…
The measure would have allowed casinos in Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Park City in Lake County and a yet-undetermined location in the southern suburbs.
It also would have permitted slot machines at racetracks, including a new track and slot machines at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
Slot machine gambling would not be allowed year-round in Springfield, Lang said. It was to be legal only during the three to nine months of the year when horse racing would have taken place.
Slots at Chicago airports behind the security perimeters are also in the bill.
* Meanwhile, McPier has shot down a suggestion that it temporarily host a new Chicago casino in its McCormick Place East Building…
“Lakeside Center is definitely not the place for a casino,” MPEA Trustee Jim Reilly said in a statement. “Our trade show customers do not want their attendees leaving the show floor during show hours.”
* Statehouse roundup…
* IL lawmakers OK tougher oversight of group homes
* Supporters, utilities try again with smart grid: Ameren and ComEd customers will pay about $3 more per month for the Smart Grid upgrades. Pramaggiore said ComEd customers would see a flat $36 per year increase. Ameren customers would see their bills rise quite a bit more. The monthly $3.40 charge would double each year, so that at the end of the 10-year Smart Grid program, Ameren customers would be paying $34 a month more.
* ComEd smart grid plan adds consumer protections: But Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the changes still allow ComEd to take advantage of customers. “Today, their legion of lobbyists continue to push legislation that will require consumers to fund billions more in guaranteed profits,” Madigan said. “This new proposal is just more of the same: a plan that hits consumers where it hurts the most — their wallets.”
* VIDEO: Dave Kolata of CUB on Smart Grid
* VIDEO: Kevin McCarthy on Smart Grid
* Measure would dismantle workers compensation system in Illinois
* State House committee wants to abolish workers’ comp: “Sometimes it’s easier to start from scratch than to try to fix something that’s so broken,” Bradley said. “We are continuing to work. There could be an announcement in the next matter of days, you know, or hours. But in the meantime, until we feel confident and comfortable doing that, we’re going to continue to move this into place.”
* Senate addresses acid attacks, murder registry, background checks
* Bill addressing safety of hotel patrons passes in general assembly
* Harrah’s Casino plans to re-open Friday
* Showing Support for a Rockford Casino
* Local leaders sign letter in support of bringing casino to Rockford: But Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, does not support a gaming expansion or a Rockford casino, saying the benefits are overstated. A casino may be an immediate benefit to the city, he said, but he doubts that there would be much benefit to the region.
* Broadcast museum moves offices into new building
* VIDEO: Rep. Lang on why gaming expansion failed in committee