ST. PAUL — Minnesota senators left no doubt they believe the lottery manager overstepped his authority by allowing online gambling as they voted Thursday to ban it.
A bill by Sen. Lyle Koenen, D-Clara City, passed 56-8 to ban the Minnesota Lottery from offering games online, at ATMs and at gas pumps.
“It’s very important that the legislature exercise its authority to regulate the lottery,” Koenen said. “I believe the lottery overstepped its authority when it started selling its instant tickets online.”
At the same time, it appears Gov. Mark Dayton’s stance has softened since he vetoed a similar bill last year. Dayton said this week he would wait to see what the bill would look like if passed before deciding whether to sign it.
A similar bill awaits action in the House, which, like the Senate, easily passed the provision a year ago.
The lottery put games online several years ago.
Sen. Greg Clausen, D-Apple Valley, failed in his effort to change Koenen’s bill to pay fuel retailers who could lose money if the state ends lottery sales at the pump .
“I believe the business owners acted in good faith,” Clausen said, so it’s not their fault that the state abruptly halted lottery sales at the pump.
Clausen said he received reports that replacing fuel pumps with lottery terminals could cost stores up to $80,000.
Senator Sandy Pappas, D-St. Paul, also lost his bid to allow the lottery to continue operating electronic games until 2018, when his contract with a gaming operator would expire. She said that even if the state can end a contract early, it could cost taxpayers up to $12 million.
Sen. Rod Skoe, D-Clearbrook, questioned the price to pay to end the game. He said an estimate of less than $3 million last year has quadrupled now.
The lottery has a $30 million fund that could be used to cover the cost of terminating the contract, Skoe said.
“There is no good public policy to use this game mechanism for government,” Skoe added.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, opposed Koenen’s bill because the cost of canceling the contract would mean the state would lose money. She said the money could be used for other things, like health programs.
Lottery executive director Ed Van Petten was unhappy with the passage of the bill.
“We remain committed to working with the Minnesota Legislature to ensure the Minnesota Lottery is the best-run in the nation and fulfills its mission to provide significant funding to the state’s general fund and environmental trust funds. “, said Van Petten.
In other legislative developments:
- Senators voted 34 to 25 to establish limits on how long law enforcement body camera videos can be kept. In many cases, the video would be retained between 90 days and a year, but would be retained longer if the video was part of a court case or an officer was involved in a physical altercation. Most of the videos wouldn’t be public unless they were saved in a place where people would expect the events to be public. The legislation does not specify when officers must turn the cameras on or off. The House does not have a similar bill and there is opposition among key House players.
- Gov. Mark Dayton and the two top legislative leaders will have plenty to discuss as they share a boat on Saturday at the Governor’s Peach Open. As the Legislative Assembly approaches its May 18 adjournment deadline, they have agreed, or are about to agree, on the easier spending bills, one for agricultural and environmental programs and the other for public safety and the courts. They remain far apart on most of the more than $40 billion two-year budget, although Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, have met several times in recent days.
- A railroad union leader says House Transportation Speaker Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, has turned down his requests for a hearing on oil train rail safety or a meeting with House leaders . “The House seems to be listening only to rail contract lobbyists rather than the legitimate concerns of Minnesotans,” said Phillip Qualy of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transit Union. Qualy was responding to a Forum News Service article in which Kelly said the railroads are best at determining rail safety needs and lawmakers don’t have that expertise.