Senate Bill 321 sponsored by Senators Scott Martin (R-13) and Ryan Aument (R-36) was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 11 by a vote of 22-2.
This legislation would give local municipal leaders the ability to opt-out of allowing Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) by passing a resolution to that effect, thereby restoring the principle of local control over the expansion of gambling.
“Lancaster County is extraordinary for many reasons, so when municipalities are forced against their will to host gambling activities here, it adds nothing positive to our culture, people, or economy. In fact, it runs completely counter to our heritage and character,” said the senators.
“It was a strong statement in 2017 when the entire county stood in solidarity against gambling activities by being the only county in the state where all 60 municipalities passed resolutions to prohibit a new gaming venue from being established here.
“Given this impressive response, Lancaster County should be proud of its consistent leadership in promoting strong values and sound public policy by refusing to rely on gambling for economic stability.
“Forcing municipalities to submit to big corporations that wish to impose gambling into spaces where it has been so clearly opposed, in no way promotes healthy families, vibrant communities, a strong economy, or high-performing schools.
“Powerful, wealthy opponents from outside the county have framed Senate Bill 321 as ‘un-republican’ and ‘anti-business,’ saying that its passage would increase taxes, discourage economic growth, and disrupt existing state revenue streams.
“Let us be very clear – Senate Bill 321 does none of this.
“The only goal of this legislation is to restore local control where it has been taken away; to allow the people of Lancaster County – rather than powerful special interests – to have the right to refuse to host any kind of unwanted gambling activity in their communities.
“In fact, it is these same special interests that are already suing our municipalities at the taxpayer’s expense because their attempts to bring gambling into our county have been resisted thus far.
“This troubling situation does not serve the interests of anyone except for the people who profit from gambling. It certainly does not serve the interests of municipalities and the people they represent.
“Additionally, these shameless tactics are a sign of blatant disrespect to the clear, stated will of Lancaster County residents.
“We are extremely disappointed with the patently false information that has been promulgated in an effort to thwart the passage of this legislation.
“These myths are not only intentionally disingenuous, but they also have done nothing to promote the shared values of the Lancaster County community that both local and state officials work so hard to advance on behalf of their constituents.
“Municipal governments should not to be targeted to host these VGTs within their borders without the ability to ‘opt-out.’ Our legislation merely provides that option to local leaders.
“Our local leaders and constituents have spoken, and it is clear that Lancaster County stands in unity against gaming within our borders as we see no public benefit, social or economic value, or cultural worth from expanding gambling. As we have said before, we have a solemn obligation and are entrusted to protect our communities from schemes that we all agree threaten our way of life.
“We firmly believe that our local municipal leaders and the people they represent ought to have the power to decide for themselves whether or not to permit expanded gambling through VGTs in their community.
“To that end, we will not fold to special interests and will continue our unwavering support for our local communities as they fight to prevent the unwelcome imposition of gambling into Lancaster County.”