This is under the heading of what contacting your elected officials can mean. Yesterday in the Senate State and Local Government committee the 50% Gambling Control Board monthly fee increase to licensed gaming charities was discussed. Senator Chris Eaton (Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center) read a note from a constituent charity that talked about how the taxes and fees that they currently pay negatively impacts their ability to fund their mission work. She then offered an amendment to eliminate the 50% increase and revert to the current fee. The amendment did not pass, but it was very gratifying to have Senator Eaton stick up for us. The fee increase still needs to be passed in the Senate and House Finance committees, so this issue is not a done deal.
After the committee hearing ACM met with Gambling Control Board Director Barrett to talk about the fee increase and to see if there is not room to come to an agreement on this issue. No agreement was reached, but we are now talking and sharing ideas. We would not be so adamant on this issue if we knew that our tax relief bill would pass with substantial relief, but there is no way to know that at this time.
ACM also met with Senator Scalze and Director Barrett yesterday to see if we could not come to a compromise on the GCB bill SF634/HF948. ACM had issues with sections 1, 15 and 18. As a result of that meeting we came to a compromise that we can all support. Once the amendment reflecting those changes has been offered, we will be asking you to contact your legislators to support the bill.
ACM policy bills SF229/HF374 (last years vetoed bill) are on the floor in both bodies and awaiting a vote. We learned yesterday that the MN Lottery vendor partners (Linq3, Scientific Games and GTech) have added an additional lobbying firm in their efforts to stop the bill. These vendor partners have combined sales of $5.9 billion dollars annually. Combined they now have nine lobbyists working against our bill.
These companies do nothing for our local communities, they only take. SF229/HF374 among many other improvements limits the MN Lottery to on line draw games (Powerball) and restricts their future Internet offerings of blackjack, poker, keno, dice games, craps, roulette or other games without getting legislative approval. We cannot leave the MN Lottery or their vendor partners to their own devices; they have already shown that they have no regard for the will of the legislature. You, your charity members and the people that benefit from your missions need to contact your elected officials and tell them that we need their support on this bill.
ACM tax bill SF1227/HF1176 is in the tax committee in both bodies. There are no deadlines for tax bills as there is for policy bills. We are in discussions with the tax chairs about the bills and what the next steps are. We are getting a real sense that legislators are seeing what current tax policy is doing to the ability of a charity to do mission work in local communities. We are also sharing with legislators the individual donations you’ve made in their district communities. Again, keep contacting your elected officials with examples of what you are paying in taxes compared to what you are able to give to needs in your local communities. It is making a difference.