Law for slots at Wichita Greyhound Park emerges in Senate

A bill that could allow a re-vote on whether to allow slot machines at Wichita Greyhound Park emerged in the Senate this week. Now it heads to the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

The bill would let Sedgwick County voters reconsider the slots issue if supporters could round up 5,000 petition signatures. It also attempts to simplify the ballot question. That’s a key component because supporters say an ambiguous ballot question may have caused the slots question to narrowly fail in a special election in 2007.

In 2007, the ballot question asked: “Shall the Kansas lottery be authorized to place electronic gaming machines in Sedgwick County?”

Supporters say that worried some voters who foresaw the proliferation of slots across the county. The question failed by 244 votes. This year’s SB319 targets just the racetrack.

This time, the question would read: ‘‘Shall the operation of electronic gaming machines at the Wichita Greyhound Park by the Kansas lottery be permitted in Sedgwick county?’’

Gov. Sam Brownback said before the legislative session began that he hoped gambling proposals would not be debated because they distract from a huge list of other pressing issues lawmakers face, including Medicaid reform, new tax policy, a state employee pension overhaul and redistricting.

But supporters of the bill said it could create 500 jobs and that they would continue to seek support.

Meanwhile, Kansas Democrats have proposed a sweeping job creation plan that includes a proposal to use new revenues from a future casino in southeast Kansas and slots at the Wichita Greyhound Park and two other locations to fund infrastructure repairs that would require new hires.