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The Senate is to take up legislation this week that would establish a
national commission to study the effects - both good and bad - of
gambling on our nation and its people.
You can bet the gambling industry doesn't like it.
Gambling interests, which now operate in 48 of the 50 states, are
strongly lobbying against creation of the commission, which would
attempt the most comprehensive and objective study ever of gambling and
all of its effects. Why the opposition? Could it be that the gambling
industry anticipates the commission will find a few downsides to
Gambling has hit the country like a storm. And in the case of
lotteries, it is state sponsored. None of that is necessarily bad, but
an objective, unbiased study such as the commission could deliver is
Twenty years ago only two states had some form of legalized gambling.
Now, all but two do. Gambling, in all its forms, has become a
multibillion-dollar business. The Washington Post reported recently that
Americans wagered more on gambling in 1994 than the combined total of
all they spent going to spectator sporting events, at movie box offices
and theme parks, for cruises and buying recorded music.
During the same time, the gambling industry has become more and more
influential on the political scene, making heavy financial contributions
to further its interests.
Local and state governments have become almost dependent on gambling
revenue, whether from lotteries or taxes from horse and dog races and
casinos - often making financial concessions to the industry as was done
in Texas for horse racing.
The commission legislation would not allow it to tax or regulate or
impose any mandates on gambling.
The commission would be limited to studying the economic effects of
gambling, positive and negative, on businesses, state budgets and
economically depressed regions. It would look into areas such as crime
and corruption, etc.
When gambling comes to states and local communities, the sales pitch is
about the creation of new jobs and higher revenues, which, as time has
shown, are often heavily exaggerated. There is little talk about the
cost of crime and other negative social implications.
Yet, these are matters that communities need to know before permitting
The House has passed its bill to establish the commission. The Senate
should now act to do the same and pass the bill without gutting it.
Otherwise, the communities will be left to getting their gambling
information from the gambling industry - information sure to favor the
-- Houston Chronicle
Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The fight to halt drugs and drug runners from crossing our borders
never seems to end. As federal and state governments continue to come up
with ways to put a atop to drug smugglers, these criminals seem to find
other ways to outsmart our nation's manpower and resources.
This war in being fought right in our own backyard. Ranchers all along
the Southwest from Eagle Pass to Presidio to Laredo are being threatened
by these outlaw~s. Their lives and property are at stake in this
showdown and something needs to be done about it now.
After three years of relative silence on the drug war, the president
finally appointed Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey as his new "drug czar." It's
vital that we never let up in combating the drug traffickers.
As a member of the congressional bipartisan Drug Policy Working Group,
I along with other members, continue to monitor progress in combating
the drug war. This group works to come up with strategies and policies
that put the drug war on the front burner - just where it should have
been all along.
Congress is working to ensure that halting! The drug war is a priority.
We've increased funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy,
which is charged with coordinating our nation's anti-drug efforts, by $8
million, raising it to almost $35 million.
Although increased funding for the Immigration and Naturalization
Service will also help to battle this outrage on our borders, the
federal government needs to provide more support for our already
backlogged judicial system. It isn't enough to just put more Border
Patrol and Customs agents at work on the border to deter and apprehend
drug smugglers. Our courts must also be prepared to handle the thousands
of criminal cases that follow. Our jails are so overcrowded that drug
offenders who commit supposedly minor violations are being let loose.
We must understand that drug runners are a direct and violent attack on
our nation and our American youth. Many in Washington are reluctant to
realize this war is not just about handing out flyers and making
speeches. What it is about is protecting our borders, our people, and
putting drug traffickers away.
Congress has appropriated the necessary assets and resources for this
fight. Now it's up to Gen. McCaffrey to coordinate the right state and
federal response to this crisis. I look forward to working closely with
him to find solutions to end this outrage on our borders.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Henry Bonilla represents the 23rd Congressional District
in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
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