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2014 Rhode Island Statewide Ballot Questions

election-2014

The Rhode Island Secretary of State’s Office has released the 2014 Voter Information Handbook . Below is the information about the seven statewide ballot questions which will appear on your November 4th ballot. There’s a lot of reading here to do before you head to the polls.


Question 1 – State Constitutional Approval

Approval of an Act authorizing state-operated casino gaming at Newport Grand in the city of Newport

(Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution)

Shall an act be approved which would authorize the facility known as “Newport Grand” in the city of Newport to add state-operated casino gaming, such as table games, to the types of gambling it offers only and exclusively at the facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road, Newport?

Explanation for Question 1

State Constitutional Approval
(Approval of an act authorizing state-operated casino gaming at Newport Grand in the city of Newport)

Purpose and Explanation: What would approval of this question do?

In order to reduce the potential adverse effects on State revenues from competition that may come from casino gaming facilities authorized in Southeast Massachusetts, the General Assembly has adopted Chapter 436 of the Public Laws of 2014 to amend Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws entitled “Video Lottery Terminal”. The amendment to Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws authorizes the licensed video lottery terminal retailer known as “Newport Grand” to engage in state-operated casino gaming at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport; provided, however, that such act for the expansion of gambling at the facility of Newport Grand shall take effect only if:

(i) this referendum question to approve the act authorizing such expansion of gambling at the facility of Newport Grand, which is being submitted for approval by the electors of the State and the City of Newport in accordance with the requirements of Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution at the general election to be held in November 2014, is approved by both a majority of the electors of the State and a majority of the electors of the City of Newport voting in the referendum; and

(ii) the proposed amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution that is set forth as Question 2 in the statewide referendum to be voted upon in the general election to be held in November 2014 is approved by a majority of the electors of the State voting in the referendum.

Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution provides that no act expanding the types of gambling permitted within any city or town in the State of Rhode Island shall take effect until it has been approved by a majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed. The proposed amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution that is set forth as Question 2 in the statewide referendum to be voted upon in the general election to be held in November 2014 requires that prior to a change in location of gambling that has been permitted in any city or town by approval of a referendum in such city or town on or after November 4, 2014, there must be a referendum in such city or town and approval by the majority of those electors voting in the referendum on such proposed change in location in the city or town. For a further discussion of this proposed amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution, please review the “Explanation for Question 2” set forth in this Voter Information Handbook 2014.

Approval of the act authorizing Newport Grand to engage in state-operated casino gaming will result in Newport Grand being authorized to engage in state-operated casino gaming at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport in accordance with the legislation adopted by the General Assembly. However, even if a majority of the electors of the State vote to approve such authorization for Newport Grand to engage in state-operated casino gaming at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport, such authorization will not take effect unless: (a) a majority of the electors of the City of Newport voting also approve such referendum question; and (b) a majority of the electors of the State voting approve Question 2 in the statewide referendum being voted upon in the general election to be held in November 2014.

In connection with the general election in November 2012 and pursuant to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution, referendum questions were presented to the electors statewide and the electors in the Town of Lincoln to authorize an act to allow the licensed video lottery terminal retailer known as “Twin River” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the Town of Lincoln and referendum questions were presented to the electors statewide and in the City of Newport to authorize an act to allow the licensed video lottery terminal retailer known as “Newport Grand” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the City of Newport. Although a majority of the electors of the State voting approved such referenda questions and a majority of the electors in the Town of Lincoln voting approved the referendum question with respect to Twin River, a majority of the electors in the City of Newport voting on the referendum question with respect to Newport Grand did not approve the question. As a result, the act to authorize the licensed video retailer known as “Twin River” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the Town of Lincoln went into effect but the act to authorize the licensed video retailer known as “Newport Grand” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the City of Newport did not go into effect. The conditions for the act now being considered to take effect that would authorize the license video retailer “Newport Grand” to engage in casino gaming at its facility in the City of Newport differ from the conditions for the prior act in 2012 to take effect in that this act is not only conditioned upon the satisfaction of the requirements of Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution but also a majority of the electors voting statewide having approved the amendment to Section 22 of Article VI provided for by Question 2 in the statewide referendum.

Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws, as amended, provides that the State of Rhode Island is authorized, subject to the restrictions of Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution, to operate, conduct and control casino gaming at Newport Grand to the extent Newport Grand is authorized to engage in casino gaming. It goes on to provide that the State of Rhode Island, through the Lottery Division and/or the Department of Business Regulation, shall have full operational control to operate the Newport Grand facility and the authority to make all decisions about all aspects of the functioning of the business enterprise, including, without limitation, the power and authority to:

(1) Determine the number, type, placement and arrangement of casino gaming games, tables and sites within the facility;
(2) Establish with respect to casino gaming one or more systems for linking, tracking, deposit and reporting of receipts, audits, annual reports, prohibitive conduct and other such matters determined from time to time;
(3) Collect all receipts from casino gaming, require that Newport Grand collect casino gaming gross receipts in trust for the State of Rhode Island through the Lottery Division, deposit such receipts into an account or accounts of its choice, allocate such receipts according to law, and otherwise maintain custody and control over all casino gaming receipts and funds;
(4) Hold and exercise sufficient powers over Newport Grand’s accounting and finances to allow for adequate oversight and verification of the financial aspects of casino gaming at the facility;
(5) Monitor all casino gaming operations and have the power to terminate or suspend any casino gaming activities in the event of an integrity concern or other threat to the public trust;
(6) Define and limit the rules of play and odds of authorized casino gaming games, including, without limitation, the minimum and maximum wagers for each casino gaming game;
(7) Have approval rights over matters relating to the employment of individuals to be involved, directly or indirectly, with the operation of casino gaming at Newport Grand;
(8) Establish compulsive gambling treatment programs;
(9) Promulgate, or propose for promulgation, any legislative, interpretive and procedural rules necessary for the successful implementation, administration and enforcement of Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws; and
(10) Hold all other powers necessary and proper to fully effectively execute and administer the provisions of Chapter 61.2 of Title 42 of the Rhode Island General Laws for its purpose of allowing the State of Rhode Island to operate a casino gaming facility through a licensed video lottery retailer hosting said casino gaming on behalf of the State of Rhode Island.

In order to further protect State gaming revenues and maintain the competitiveness of Newport Grand and the State’s other gaming facility, Twin River, in 2012 the General Assembly adopted legislation called the Revenue Protection Act to address, among other things, the share of net table game revenues to be received by the State if casino gaming is approved, the share of video lottery terminal revenue to be received by the City of Newport going forward, incentive gaming programs to protect market share and mitigate the potential impact of casino gaming in Massachusetts, and a regulatory framework to ensure oversight of casino gaming by the Lottery Division.

The Revenue Protection Act, as amended by Chapter 436 of the Public Laws of 2014, establishes the State of Rhode Island’s share of net table game revenues from Newport Grand to be 18 per cent of such revenues, which is consistent with the State’s percentage share of net table game revenues received from Twin River. The State received for fiscal year 2013 approximately 61.67% of net terminal income from video lottery terminals at Newport Grand. The State’s percentage share of revenues from table games at Newport Grand is significantly less than the State’s percentage share of revenues from video lottery terminals because the operational expenses relating to table games to be paid by Newport Grand, LLC are substantially higher than the operational expenses relating to video lottery terminals.

The Revenue Protection Act, as amended by Chapter 436 of the Public Laws of 2014, does not change the share of net terminal income received by Newport Grand, LLC from video lottery terminals at Newport Grand but it does provide for a change in the share of net terminal income to the City of Newport. The Revenue Protection Act, as amended, provides that, effective as of July 1, 2015, provided that this referendum question is approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide and in the City of Newport, and provided that Question 2 is approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide, the City of Newport’s allocation of net terminal income from authorized video lottery terminals at the Newport Grand shall increase from one and one hundredth percent (1.01%) to one and forty-five hundredths percent (1.45%) of such net terminal income. Furthermore, if, in addition to this referendum question being approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide and in the City of Newport and Question 2 being approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide, (i) Newport Grand, LLC or its successor has made an investment of no less than forty million dollars ($40,000,000) exclusive of acquisition costs within three (3) years, (ii) a certificate of completion and final approval from the city building inspector has been issued for the facility upgraded through this investment, (iii) the number of video lottery terminals in operation is no fewer than those in operation as of January 1, 2014 and (iv) table gaming has commenced in Newport, then the City of Newport’s allocation of net terminal income of authorized video lottery terminals at Newport Grand shall be the greater of one million dollars ($1,000,000) or one and forty-five hundredths percent (1.45%) of such net terminal income, except that for six (6) consecutive full fiscal years immediately thereafter, the allocation shall be the greater of one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000) or one and forty-five hundredths percent (1.45%) of net terminal income of authorized video lottery terminals at Newport Grand. Such minimum distribution shall be distributed in twelve (12) equal payments during the fiscal year.

To review the provisions of the Revenue Protection Act in their entirety and their effect as it relates to table games and video lottery terminals at Newport Grand should this referendum question be approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide and in the City of Newport and should Question 2 be approved by a majority of the electors voting statewide, we refer you to the legislation enacted under Chapter 436 of the Public Laws of 2014 and Chapters 289 and 290 of the Public Laws of 2012.

A vote to “Approve” this question means you wish to approve the act authorizing Newport Grand to add state- operated casino gaming, such as table games, to the types of gambling it offers only and exclusively at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport in accordance with the provisions of such act.

A vote to “Reject” this question means you do not approve the act authorizing Newport Grand to add state- operated casino gaming, such as table games, to the types of gaming it offers only and exclusively at its facility located at 150 Admiral Kalbfus Road in the City of Newport in accordance with the provisions of such act.

How much money will be borrowed?
The referendum would not authorize any borrowing.


Question 2 – Amendment to the Constitution of the State

Restriction on Gambling

(Section 1 of Article XIV of the Constitution)

Approval of the amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution set forth below will provide that no change in the location of gambling permitted in a municipality would occur without the further approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed location change in a referendum within said municipality:

Full text of amendment for Question 2:

Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 22. Restriction on gambling.

No act expanding the types or locations of gambling which are permitted within the state or within any city or town therein or expanding municipalities in which a particular form of gambling is authorized shall take effect until it has been approved by the majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in said referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed and, having been so approved in said referendum in any city or town on or after November 4, 2014, the location where the gambling is permitted in any city or town shall not be changed within said city or town without the approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed change in a referendum in said city or town.

The secretary of state shall certify the results of the statewide referendum and the local board of canvassers of the city or town where the gambling is to be allowed shall certify the results of the local referendum to the secretary of state.

Explanation for Question 2

Amendment to the Constitution of the State
(Restriction on Gambling)

Purpose and Explanation: What would approval of this question do?

In 1994 the Constitution of Rhode Island was amended to add Section 22 of Article VI to provide that no act expanding the types of gambling permitted within the State or within any city or town therein or expanding the municipalities in which a particular form of gambling is authorized can take effect until it has been approved by a majority of statewide electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the municipality where the proposed gambling would be allowed.

The General Assembly has proposed by joint resolution an amendment to Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution in accordance with the provisions of Section 1 of Article XIV of the Constitution for approval by the State’s electors. If approved, the proposed amendment to the Constitution referenced below will have the effect of providing that no change in the location of gambling permitted in a municipality would occur without the further approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed location change in a referendum within said municipality.

Section 22 of Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 22. Restriction on gambling.
No act expanding the types or locations of gambling which are permitted within the state or within any city or town therein or expanding municipalities in which a particular form of gambling is authorized shall take effect until it has been approved by the majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a said referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed and, having been so approved in said referendum in any city or town on or after November 4, 2014, the location where the gambling is permitted in any city or town shall not be changed within said city or town without approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed change in a referendum in said city or town.

The secretary of state shall certify the results of the statewide referendum and the local board of canvassers of the city or town where the gambling is to be allowed shall certify the results of the local referendum to the secretary of state.

The words and phrases in the proposed amendment to the Constitution set forth above that have been crossed- out are words and phrases currently found in Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution that would be removed by the amendment. The words and phrases in the proposed amendment to the Constitution set forth above that have been underlined are words and phrases that are not currently found in Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution that would be added by the amendment.

The approval of the act authorizing the facility known as “Newport Grand” in the City of Newport to add state- operated casino gaming, such as table games, to the types of gambling offered as provided for by Question 1 in the statewide referendum can only take place if, in addition to approval of such Question 1 by a majority of those electors voting statewide and those electors voting in the City of Newport, a majority of those electors voting statewide also approve this Question 2 in the statewide referendum being voted upon in the general election to be held in November 2014.

A vote to “Approve” means that no change in location of gambling permitted in a city or town by approval of a referendum in such city or town on or after November 4, 2014 would occur without the further approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed location change in a referendum within said city or town.

A vote to “Reject” means that a change in location of gambling permitted in a city or town would occur without the further approval of the majority of those electors voting on said proposed location change in a referendum within said city or town.

How much money will be borrowed?
The referendum would not authorize any borrowing.


Question 3 – Constitutional Convention

(Section 2 of Article XIV of the Constitution)

Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the Constitution?

Explanation for Question 3

Constitutional Convention

Purpose and Explanation: What would approval of this question do?

The General Assembly has submitted the following question to the State’s electors:

Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the Constitution?
A Constitutional Convention is an assembly of delegates or representatives of the people of the State for the purpose of amending or revising the Rhode Island Constitution. A Constitutional Convention, if held, could propose an entirely new Constitution for adoption or rejection by the State’s electors; it could propose individual amendments to the Constitution; or it could re-write the basic document while presenting what appears to be the most controversial issues to the electors in the form of supplemental amendments, thus allowing individual decisions on each.

No amendment or revision to the Constitution agreed upon by a Constitutional Convention shall take effect until the amendments or revisions have been submitted to the electors of the State and approved by a majority of those electors voting.

In accordance with Section 2 of Article XIV of the Rhode Island Constitution, a bi-partisan preparatory commission has been created by the General Assembly to assemble information on constitutional questions
for the electors of the State. The preparatory commission made use of such sources and gathered information pertinent to the fulfillment of its charge as it deemed appropriate. The preparatory commission, after gathering information on particular issues that the State’s electors may consider, reported its findings to the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and to the public, through the news media.

If a majority of the State’s electors vote to hold a Constitutional Convention, then it will be the responsibility of the 2015 General Assembly to enact legislation determining the method of election of delegates, setting forth an election schedule, and appropriating funds. The number of delegates shall be equal to the number of members of the House of Representatives and shall be apportioned in the same manner as the members of the House of Representatives. The parameters of a Constitutional Convention would be decided by the General Assembly and the elected delegates to the Convention. The last Constitutional Convention was held in 1986.

The actual cost to the taxpayers of conducting a Convention in 2016 is unknown. However, the bi-partisan preparatory commission for the proposed Constitutional Convention that met in July and August 2014, reported that the projected cost to the taxpayers of holding a Constitutional Convention in 2016 would be approximately Two and One-half Million Dollars, ($2.5M), after adjusting 1986 costs for inflation and in anticipation of numerous factors that could increase the cost of a convention to include the total number and location of convention meetings, the expense of hired experts, as well as the cost of a staff necessary to assist delegates in carrying out their duties.

A copy of the complete report issued by the bi-partisan preparatory commission presenting its findings, including information on issues that may be considered by the Constitutional Convention and the projected costs to taxpayers of holding a Constitutional Convention in 2016, may be viewed on the website of the Rhode Island General Assembly (www.rilin.state.ri.us) or a copy of the report may be obtained from the Rhode Island Library, State House Room 208, Providence, RI 02903.

This question has been proposed by the General Assembly of the State pursuant to Section 2 of Article XIV of the Rhode Island Constitution, which gives the General Assembly the right to submit to the electors at any election the question, “Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the Constitution?” If the General Assembly fails to submit the question to the electors of the State during any ten year period, then the Secretary of State shall submit it at the next general election following such period.

A vote to “Approve” means you would like to see a Constitutional Convention called to amend or revise the Constitution.

A vote to “Reject” means that you are opposed to a Constitutional Convention called to amend or revise the Constitution at this time.

How much money will be borrowed?
The referendum would not authorize any borrowing.

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News & Notes

The Atlantic Cities: What Real Respect for Bicyclists Looks Like

Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians all compete for space and safety on the streets and roads of the world’s cities and suburbs. It’s a contentious and sometimes ugly coexistence, which is why so many government agencies and advocacy groups periodically mount public-awareness campaigns with messages like “share the road” or “don’t be a jerk” or “respect other road users.”

In the end, those are just words. The ultimate form of respect for any road user is properly designed infrastructure that allows that a person to travel with comfort and safety using their preferred mode. In the United States, it’s clear who gets real respect (and infrastructure spending) on a regular basis. That would be the people driving cars.


The Hill: GOP platform: Cut Amtrak, privatize airport security and focus highway money on roads

The platform approved by Republicans on Tuesday calls for the elimination of funding for Amtrak passenger rail service, private airport security screening and stopping the use of money earmarked for highway construction for other purposes.

The more than 30,000-word document was approved on the first full day of the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. It includes many provisions that were pushed by Republicans in the House during recent negotiations over the new $105 billion transportation bill that was approved by lawmakers in June.

Among them are reducing environmental regulations to expedite construction projects and using more money that is earmarked for transportation for road and highway projects, rather than other forms of transportation such as public transit or bicycling and pedestrian programs.


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News & Notes

SB 375 Draws Ire of Tea Party [California Planning & Development Report]

While the Tea Party movement has been trying to “take back America” on the national stage since the election of Barack Obama, Tea Party activists have also turned their attention to taking back California – and, specifically, Senate Bill 375, the 2008 law that seeks to combat climate change by promoting density in the state’s metro regions.

Environmentalists and many fans of cities hail SB 375 as an important step towards both curbing global warming and creating more pleasant cities. But Tea Party activists nationwide have fought against local and regional planning efforts, often invoking the United Nations’ “Agenda 21″ sustainable development effort as the enemy. In California, Tea Party representatives have increasingly turned up at regional and statewide planning sessions – including a recent SB 375 “One Bay Area” workshop in Concord, where they disrupted the meeting by challenging its premise.


America’s Gambling Craze: Playing with Fire [CitiWire]

What if all America were like Las Vegas, with gambling as near as the closest convenience store? Or if states offered blackjack, poker and other casino-style games on-line, as accessible as your personal computer?

“There is a legalized gambling avalanche in progress in America,” [Sam] Skolnik concludes.

And at a high price, he adds: newly legalized gambling opportunities invariably create new gamblers. A small but significant percentage get hooked. Gambling addiction leads to unemployment, bankruptcies, divorces, illnesses – and in some of the severest cases, suicide. Addicted gamblers, estimates Baylor University scholar Earl Gronois, cost the United States as much as $50 billion a year.


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News & Notes

Projo 7 to 7 News Blog: Chafee takes first step toward casino study

The study would look, in part, at the impact on Rhode Island’s gambling revenue that from the potential of three privately run casinos in Massachusetts, a possible Wampanoag Indian casino in Southeastern Massachusetts, and the introduction of slots at the Bay State’s tracks.

The consultant would be asked to consider the impact, if any, on Rhode Island on a Shinnecock Indian casino at the eastern end of Long Island.

The study would also look at the potential impact on state revenue of allowing table games at both Twin River and Newport Grand — with and without competition from Massachusetts — and what might happen to state revenue if the Narragansetts were somehow able to buy Twin River.


The New York Times: ‘I Was A Teenage Cyclist,’ or How Anti-Bike-Lane Arguments Echo the Tea Party

If you’re itching to write an anti-bike-lane argument (and, if so, line up, because it’s a burgeoning literary genre), you could do no better than to follow the template laid out yesterday by The New Yorker’s John Cassidy in his blog post, “Battle of the Bike Lanes.”

Cassidy’s post – which has already been called “a seminal document of New York City’s bike lane backlash era” – helpfully includes all the requisite rhetorical tactics, thus providing an excellent blueprint. (You might even say “boilerplate.”) These include:

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Casino urbanism

Truth be told, I’d rather we not have any casinos in New England. But I have said in the past, if Rhode Island were to legalize casinos, I would want to see one built in Providence rather than expansion in Lincoln or a new casino some place like West Warwick. People in Lincoln will already tell you they’re not too keen on Twin River’s traffic and noise, and that isn’t even a real casino (yet). I’d prefer the traffic and noise and other problems attached to a casino confined to the city, which can site a casino in a district suited to 24-hour use, and also hope that the casino has a positive effect on the city’s hotels, restaurants, and shopping. A casino outside Providence guarantees that people would leave Providence or never come to Providence to begin with.

Basically, my feelings are spelled out in this post by Lefty on A View From Battleship Cove. Lefty compares the proposal by the Wampanoags for an all-inclusive resort style casino on 300 acres of land at the edge of Fall River, on a site off Route 24; against a proposal by a private developer for a casino situated right in Downtown New Bedford which intends to funnel it’s patrons out into the downtown area.

It seems inevitable at this point that the casino debate will come back to life in Rhode Island at some point. With expansions at the Connecticut casinos and the likelihood of casinos in nearby Massachusetts, our state’s dependence on gambling as a major source of our revenue will be in danger. I’d prefer we diversify our economy and ween ourselves from the gaming teet, but the question will be asked again. So let’s discuss it now. If full scale casino(s) were legal in Rhode Island, where would you want to see one built and why?

Image: Rendering of proposed Fall River casino complex

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