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Alcohol, gambling hot issues during Sen. Hughes’ weekly call PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 29 January 2015 17:54

By Tim Linscott

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel


Dealing with alcohol and gambling bills were some hot-button issues Sen. Dan Hughes of the 44th District spoke about at his weekly conference call on Jan. 27.

A main gambling issue Hughes noted was LR10CA, which would take specific language out of the Nebraska constitution that would take away gambling restrictions, leaving it up to the legislation or a vote of the people to decide on allowing gambling in the state.

The measure was introduced by District 22 Senator Paul Schumacher of Columbus.

Hughes explained that $400 million per year of Nebraska funds goes to Iowa in gambling. The state is then left to pay for gambling addiction services and other costs associated with half of the population of the state living within one hour of a gaming facility and 75 percent of the state’s population within two hours.

“There is no revenue coming in to pick up the short-fall,” Hughes explained.

With gambling already in the state through the form of lottery tickets, keno and bingo, Hughes feels Nebraska could be missing out on a potential stream of income to the state by not having expanded gambling.

“As a farmer, I gamble for a living,” he said. “I am not opposed to gambling as much as some. It is already here. I’m not opposed to it if the people want it.”

Another hot topic Hughes noted on the legislative floor was LB118, a bill that would allow cigar bars in the state. He said he had 280 e-mails in favor of the allowance with only one note of opposition.

The cigar bars would only sell cigars and pipe tobacco, would not serve food or allow cigarettes and would be allowed tohave a liquor license.

The bill was previously passed by the legislature in 2008 but the Nebraska Supreme Court struck the measure down.

Justice Kenneth Stephan wrote an opinion that there is no justification for treating cigar bars differently from other public places.

“The language has changed now to pass Supreme Court muster,” Hughes explained.

Other bills Hughes is paying particular interest include:

• LB250: Removing the five minute delay between keno games in the state.

• LB 241: Allowing a city to issue cemetery plots.

• LB 179: Allowing certificates for advancement for electrician apprentices.

•LB 160: Giving banks the same incentive tools currently used by credit unions.