Eighty-seven Arkansas legislators now opposed to casino amendment

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 340 views 

Eighty-seven of the state’s 135 legislators, or 64.4%, have announced their opposition to Issue 5, which would create a constitutional amendment authorizing its sponsors to open three casinos in Arkansas.

The total was announced Tuesday (Sept. 27) by Protect Arkansas Values – Stop Casinos Now. Also opposing the amendment are Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

In a Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll published Sept. 26, 49% of Arkansans were opposed to the amendment, while 38% supported it.

Issue 5 would create a constitutional amendment authorizing the building of one casino each in Washington County, Miller County and Boone County. The casinos would be required to pay the state 18% of their net and would pay 1.5% to the city where they are located and 0.5% to their local counties. An Arkansas Gaming Commission would regulate.

Robert Coon with Arkansas Wins in 2016, the group sponsoring the amendment, said in an email, “The focus of our campaign is on securing support for Issue 5 from Arkansas voters, more than a 100,000 of whom signed petitions to place this issue on the ballot. Our effort involves explaining to voters how Issue 5 will create jobs, increase tourism, and bring tax dollars back to local Arkansas communities from surrounding states.”

In the House, 44 Republicans, 20 Democrats and the Legislature’s only independent, Rep. Nate Bell, I-Mena, announced their opposition. In the Senate, 17 Republicans and five Democrats oppose the casino amendment.

Senate Republicans opposed to the measure are Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, the Senate president pro tempore, along with Sens. Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers; Ron Caldwell, R-Wynne; Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale; John Cooper, R-Jonesboro; Jane English, R-North Little Rock; Jake Files, R-Fort Smith; Scott Flippo, R-Bull Shoals; Jim Hendren, Gravette; Jimmy Hickey, Jr., R-Texarkana; Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View; Jason Rapert, R-Conway; Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs; David J. Sanders, Little Rock; Greg Standridge, R-Russellville; Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch; and Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot.

Senate Democrats opposed to the measure are Sens. Eddie Cheatham, D-Crossett; Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis; Bruce Maloch, D-Magnolia; Bobby Pierce, D-Sheridan; and Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville.

House Republicans who have announced their opposition are Reps. Bob Ballinger, R-Berryville; Rick Beck, R-Center Ridge; Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith; David Branscum, R-Marshall; Karilyn Brown, R-Sherwood; Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville; Bruce Cozart, R-Hot Springs; Andy Davis, R-Little Rock; Gary Deffenbaugh, R-Van Buren; Jana Della Rosa, R-Rogers; Charlotte Douglas, R-Alma; Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville; Trevor Drown, R-Dover; Les Eaves, R-Searcy; Charlene Fite, R-Van Buren; Lanny Fite, R-Benton; Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs; Justin Gonzales, R-Okolona; Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne; Kim Hammer, R-Benton; Justin Harris, R-West Fork; Kenneth Henderson, R-Russellville; Kim Hendren, R-Gravette; Grant Hodges, R-Rogers; Mike Holcomb, R-Sulphur Springs; Douglas House, R-North Little Rock; Tim Lemons, R-Cabot; Robin Lundstrum, R-Springdale; Julie Mayberry, R-Hensley; Ron McNair, R-Alpena; David Meeks, R-Greenbrier; Stephen Meeks, R-Greenbrier; Josh Miller, R-Heber Springs; John Payton, R-Wilburn; Rebecca Petty, R-Rogers Marcus Richmond, R-Harvey; Laurie Rushing, R-Hot Springs; Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro; Jim Sorvillo, R-Little Rock; Nelda Speaks, R-Mountain Home; Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro; DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio; Dave Wallace, R-Leachville; and Richard Womack, R-Arkadelphia.

House Democrats who have announced their opposition are Reps. Scott Baltz, D-Pocahontas; Camille Bennett, D-Lonoke; Deborah Ferguson, D-West Memphis; Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff; David Hillman, D-Almyra; Monte Hodges, D-Blytheville; Joe Jett, D-Success; Bob Johnson, D-Jacksonville; Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville; Stephen Magie, D-Conway; Mark McElroy, D-Tillar; Rep. George McGill, D-Fort Smith; Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna; Rep. Milton Nicks, D-Marion; Betty Overbey, D-Lamar; James Ratliff, D-Imboden; Chris Richey, D-Helena; Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock; John Vines, D-Hot Springs; and Marshall Wright, D-Forrest City.