Drunk with power: The Legislature stiffs the public on casino drinksEdit

Source: Editorial, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 26, 2006

We don't agree with legislative reformer Timoth Potts that free drinks at Pennsylvania's slots parlors "will unleash hordes of drunks upon the roads and sidewalks." After all, the state's new slots casinos will be profit-making enterprises, subject to loss of their gambling license, their liquor license, their very business.

But we do agree with him, the head of Democracy Rising PA, and other leaders of citizens groups that the Legislature has pulled another fast one. Last week, minutes before lawmakers ended their two-year session, they passed a bill that would allow casinos to serve free drinks to customers.

We think many Pennsylvanians -- tavern owners, restaurateurs, regular folks who do or don't drink -- have strong views on the subject and deserved to be heard. But legislative watchdogs said the General Assembly, once again, rammed through a measure without observing constitutional provisions that ensure public notice and scrutiny.

Given that, Gov. Ed Rendell has no choice. He should veto the bill.

We don't care if some lawmakers contend free drinks are needed for Pennsylvania casinos to "maintain their competitiveness." The Legislature did an end run around the people again.

Let members of the House and Senate make their case for such a bill next year in open debate. Maybe Pennsylvanians will be persuaded.

But not now. This bill is an affront to the public. The governor should put a cork in it.


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