From left to right: Joyce Guerrero, Ron Hein, Steve Ortiz, and Ryan Dyer
February 10, 2010 –MAYETTA: Three members of Tribal Council were present yesterday at the Kansas Capitol to hear Ron Hein, a legislative counselor for the PBPN, testify against a new bill recently placed before the Kansas legislature that is designed to change the expanded gaming law that was passed in 2007.
Senate Bill 401 includes provisions for a percentage reduction in profits that the state will receive if racetrack owners install electronic gaming devices in their enterprises. Presently, existing race tracks are closed and slot machines were never installed because track owners felt the state’s share of the profits were too high. In addition, the new bill calls for a do-over vote for citizens in Sedgwick County who voted down a state-owned gaming enterprise in 2007. See www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-bills/showBill.do?id=322125.
According to an article that was in the Lawrence Journal World (February 3, 2010), bills have been introduced in the House and Senate that will revitalize the horse and dog tracks and expand gambling. The proposals would reduce the state’s share of slots revenues from 27 percent to 22 percent that would increase the tracks’ profit margins and also share the money with breeders (horse and dog) and associations statewide.
Representatives for destination casinos, like the one the Prairie Band owns, and the newly-proposed Hollywood Casino which is on tap for approval by the Kansas Lottery Commission this coming Friday in Wyandotte County, are against the new bill because they say it will create greater competition and because it also changes the rules outlined in the original law.
Hein said during his testimony, “The new bill will promote non-destination slot parlors, which will make it more difficult for the destination gambling facilities to attract tourists to Kansas. The gambling casinos will be forced to spend money competing with the local slots parlors, rather than by promoting tourism. And if there is no tourism, then the gambling is simply sucking money out of the Kansas economy, and is stealing from one tax-paying business to put it in the hands of the gambling interests. The gambling interest may pay taxes, too, but there will be no new net income to the state.”
He further stressed that the passage of the act would threaten the progress already made in northeast Kansas, and that it would be a backward step not only in the progress of Native Americans, but in the relationship between the state and the Tribal communities.
Hein and his wife Julie, who own Hein Law Firm Chartered in Topeka, have been representing the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation for several years in political and legislative matters particularly concerning Kansas.