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    State of Play

    Pa.: Governor Rejects Early Gaming Proposal

    Wednesday, Dec. 23, 1998

    Gov. Tom Ridge (R) rejected a proposal by Philadelphia mayoral candidate and state Rep. Dwight Evans (D) to link riverboat gambling and stadiums to school funding. Ridge told reporters he intends to consider any expanded gaming in Pennsylvania only after a statewide referendum. Evans, a former opponent of both riverboat gambling and public financing for stadiums, proposed a citywide referendum for next May to collect money for stadiums and schools from riverboat gaming. His plan would raise an estimated $50 million annually for city schools and $50 million for local economic development. The governor told Evans to gather support from his House colleagues and seek approval for a statewide gambling referendum. But that seems highly unlikely in the face of strong statewide opposition to new gaming.

    More State Political News From:
    Alabama | Florida | Illinois
    Mississippi | New Mexico

    Alabama: Organization Proves to be Challenging Task


    As Lt. Gov.-elect Steve Windom (R) struggles to gain enough support from Democrats to assume organizational powers in the state Senate, the presumed House speaker, Seth Hammett (D), is consolidating Democratic control and leaving GOP members out in the cold. Sources say members of the House Democratic Caucus do not want Hammett to appoint any Republicans to committee chairmanships and to set committee memberships at two-thirds Democratic. Hammett may face pressure to freeze out several Republican legislators who campaigned against incumbent Democratic members.

    Florida: Special Session Looms for Union Issue


    Florida legislators will almost certainly try to override Gov. Lawton Chiles's veto of a police officer/fire fighter pension bill during a possible one-day special session in mid-January. The Florida League of Cities opposed the measure last session on the grounds that it could cost cities as much as $55 million and possibly prompt calls to increase local taxes. Police and fire fighter unions say pension plans in many cities do not meet state standards; the bill would require cities to adhere to a state-approved pension structure. Gov.-elect Jeb Bush (R) garnered the support of the traditionally Democratic Police Benevolent Association and the state fire fighters union during his campaign. Some sources say the GOP wants to quickly resolve the issue as a symbol to the unions.

    Illinois: Legislators Return to Springfield With a New Governor


    The 1998 legislative session is scheduled to formally end Jan. 13, when new lawmakers will take their oath of office. However, current lawmakers have extended their 1998 veto session, which met for several days in November and December, to include two additional days in January. The session reportedly will extend because Gov.-elect George Ryan (R) will take office Jan. 11, leaving lawmakers time to try their luck with legislation that Ryan may find more favorable than incumbent Gov. Jim Edgar (R). Riverboat gambling, early retirement for state workers, and large-scale hog farms could come up during the mini-session.

    Mississippi: 1999 Governor's Race Heats Up


    Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove formally launched his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1999, setting up a potentially brutal primary showdown with Attorney General Mike Moore (D). Musgrove, while an underdog in the polls, reportedly spent two years organizing and raising money while Moore battled tobacco companies. Moore will formally announce early next year; Gov. Kirk Fordice (R) is term-limited.

    New Mexico: Hot Issues Emerge for State Political Players


    Gov. Gary Johnson (R) has put an overhaul of the auto insurance industry and two controversial prison issues on his agenda for the 1999 legislature, which begins Jan. 19. The subjects, which some say Johnson chose to score political points with New Mexico residents, are sure to create tension with the Democratic-controlled legislature. Johnson wants the legislature to crack down on uninsured motorists. He also wants to change the state's "good-time" policy to require violent inmates to serve 85 percent of their sentences, and also is likely to push for a two-year cap on the time inmates may appeal death penalty sentences.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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