Monday, March 30, 2009

Share your thoughts on pari-mutuel betting

Bluffton Today

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There are several items we are tracking with regard to your preferences and we need to have good contact.

Speaking of contact, I asked for your comments on the pari-mutuel issue and you, as always, let me hear it loud and clear.

In fact, as of this writing (Wed. night), we have received more than 150 responses. I would like to run this poll for at least another week or two so that all who wish to express themselves may do so. At this point, the numbers are running almost 8 to 1 in favor of some form of pari-mutuel betting. I am extremely interested in how District 118 compares to other coastal districts, as this has become an issue in the Coastal Caucus.

The raw numbers may be running heavily in favor of gambling, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good, persuasive arguments on both sides. My friend, Judy Whelan, is opposed to the dog and horse racing possibilities because of her contention that these events lead to cruelty to animals, or are cruelty per se.

While I am not familiar enough with the mechanics of either sport to have an informed opinion, I do believe that treatment of animals will be a part of this conversation if it advances past the polling stage.

Gambling of another sort is also up for discussion during this session. As most of you know, our state has gambling laws on the books from the 1800s that may have seemed reasonable for that time, but are long since archaic and untenable.

Several charities have requested we revisit and update these statutes to be more relevant to our time. My Rotary friends, my Knights of Columbus friends, as well as my fellow Hibernians want to conduct their raffles and charity events without the threat of sanctions from the 19th century spoiling the fun.

The problem is how we can legally adjust our laws to allow harmless forms of gambling while disallowing the more pernicious forms, such as video poker.

Once again, I want you to share your experience and wisdom. This is a separate but related issue to the pari-mutuel betting conversation. Please let me hear your thoughts on this.

I was able to have a nice visit with Dr. Jane Upshaw at the Carolina Action Network’s Annual Carolina Day at the State House this past Wednesday.

Dr. Upshaw is a first class representative of USC-B as well as our entire area. In fact, she was named Women College President of the Year a couple of weeks ago.

We are working to keep higher education funding coming to the Lowcountry and Dr. Upshaw is our most effective weapon in that struggle.

There is some good news on the horizon regarding the Jasper Port. I want to publicly recognize and express gratitude for the excellent work put in by my colleague, Senator Tom Davis, on this essential project.

Tom has been there from day one, either as the governor’s chief of staff or as a member of the senate, moving the ball down the field.

Lastly, despite the construction, Old Town Bluffton is open for business, and from all indications, business is good.