House delays decision on intervening in Sumner County casino contract

By Todd Fertig

It’s unclear when the House will decide whether or not to have the attorney general intervene in the contract for a Sumner County casino.

House Resolution 6015 would require Attorney General Derek Schmidt to to challenge the state gaming commission’s decision to award the contract to Peninsula Gaming’s Kansas Star casino.

The resolution was to have been debated Wednesday evening, but the House instead adjourned for the day.

“It was getting late and we knew the debate would be long,” said House Speaker Rep. Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson. “Since it’s a resolution, it doesn’t have to be done this week.”

Lawmakers are rushing to finish a lot of business this week before adjourning the session. They will return in three weeks for a short wrapup session to deal with vetos and remaining budget issues.

The contract has come under fire from the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs, which approved the resolution.

Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Bel Aire, the chairman of the Federal and State Affairs Committee, said waiting is the right thing to do.

“People have questions about the resolution – they have heard conflicting information,” said Brunk. “We wanted an opportunity to fully discuss the matter in both caucuses, rather than try to sort out the issues on the fly here on the floor.”

Committee members say they seek answers to these questions:

–Whether Peninsula Gaming met contractual stipulations. Casino opponents of the casino complain that Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission approved the contract before the Mulvane City Council approved final zoning for the project.

–Whether a Kansas Expanded Lottery Act stipulation that elected officials cannot involve themselves in the process is constitutional.

Critics of the $260 million project at the Mulvane exit of the Kansas Turnpike point to issues regarding water drainage, water-contamination and traffic around the casino and to misdemeanor charges against two Peninsula executives of illegally funneling $25,000 in campaign contributions to the governor of Iowa.