Sunday, May 27, 2001

Gov, GOP squabble
over gambling

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

Gov. Ben Cayetano says state House Republicans should "put up or shut up" and allow the issue of casino gambling to go before Hawaii's voters next year in the form of a state constitutional amendment.

House Minority Leader Galen Fox (R, Waikiki) responded that Republicans would be happy to put gambling on the ballot if Cayetano and his fellow Democrats first establish a process of initiative and referendum.

The squabble over referendums surfaced after Cayetano suggested on Thursday that the Legislature propose an amendment allowing one or two exclusive casino licenses with the proceeds of a gambling tax going to education.

"The governor is not going to get his casino because he needs two-thirds in the House and he doesn't have two-thirds in the House because the Republicans are opposed to gambling," Fox said Friday. "He should have talked to us before he popped off to the press."

The Republicans support first establishing a process of initiative, "then it's up to the people to go out and get the signatures if they want to put gambling on the ballot," Fox said.

What Cayetano has proposed is the Legislature passing a constitutional amendment for gambling and letting the people ratify that decision, he said. "That's real different from initiative, referendum and recall."

The governor said having referendums and initiatives for the voters to decide issues is part of the GOP's platform.

"This would be the equivalent to a referendum -- something you refer to the people for a vote," he said Friday. "So why would the Republicans oppose it, unless they are making the decision for the people and then you have to question whether they really believe in a referendum or initiative."

The Republicans and even some Democrats in the Legislature "always posture and talk about referendums and initiative. This is an opportunity for them to put up or shut up."

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