Thursday, November 11, 2004
Gambling interests placed four initiatives on the ballot in Nebraska this past election in an effort to spread gambling throughout the state. Initiative Measure 417 would have amended the state Constitution to allow the legality of gambling to be addressed in future ballot initiatives. I.M. 419 dealt with the distribution of taxes on gambling revenues. I.M. 420 would have allowed communities to authorize gambling. Gambling, gambling, gambling.
Initiative 418 did not deal directly with gambling, but was supported by the same interests who supported 417, 419, and 420. Why? Because Initiative Measure 418 would have required a two-thirds vote in the legislature to overturn any statute passed by initiative. Pro-gambling interests figured they could pass gambling with Initiatives 417 and 420, and then lock it into place with 418.
The joke was on them though. The citizens of Nebraska saw through the ploy and defeated measures 417 and 420, denying the gambling interests their desired payday, while passing measures 418 and 419.
In this light, Initiative Measure 418 can be seen as a victory for democracy. When the citizens of Nebraska get together and decide to make law through the initiative process, the legislature must now pay this decision by their constituents more respect. At the same time, Nebraskans stiff-armed a sneaky attempt by gambling interests to backdoor their way into the communities of the state.