- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Top House Dems downplay chances for gambling bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Top House Democrats on Tuesday downplayed chances of passing legislation that could bring casinos to Kentucky, one day after Senate Republicans declared it lacks enough votes to pass in their chamber.

House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark said he’s still negotiating with racetrack owners in hopes of crafting a version that could win broad enough support to put the issue on the ballot for Kentucky voters to decide. But he seemed pessimistic.

House leaders weren’t budging on their insistence that the Senate take up the issue first. House Speaker Greg Stumbo said there’s no reason for the House to take up a bill that’s “just going to die over there.”

“I don’t see any reason to put any effort into it,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

Senate Republicans who control their chamber met Monday night to discuss expanded gambling, a perennial issue that has routinely died in this Bible-belt state with a long history of wagering on horses.

After that meeting, Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Seum said he wasn’t giving up on his proposal to put the casino issue on the November ballot. Any legislation proposing a change to the state Constitution needs at least 23 supporting votes in the 38-member Senate.

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Committee OKs bill to allow concealed guns in bars

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A bill to allow concealed deadly weapons in Kentucky bars has passed its first committee hearing in the Legislature.

The Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee approved the measure Tuesday. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. John Schickel of Union, is the committee’s chairman.

Current state law prohibits concealed firearms from being carried into bars, but Schickel’s bill would allow it as long as those who carry them do not drink. He called that a matter of self-defense.

Schickel said current law allows people to openly carry visible weapons into bars at the proprietor’s discretion. Schickel also said his bill would not interfere with a bar owner’s right to prohibit guns at an establishment. He said that 25 other states have similar gun laws.

“The bad guys can take guns in bars now, and do,” Schickel. “So it only stands to reason that a person who is not drinking, that has a concealed carry permit, be allowed to defend themselves,” he said.

When asked whether the measure might make bars more dangerous, Schickel responded: “That’s always been an argument, but the results are the complete opposite, that these establishments become safer. Every time we’ve expanded concealed carry permits, crime rates have gone down, not up.”

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