Today a resolution (HCR 3033) was introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R – District 41) to amend the state constitution to allow for six state-run casinos. Yes, it’s true. Rep. Carlson thinks the state should get into the casino business. If the resolution passes through the legislature, it would go to a vote of the people in June 2018.
Carlson’s proposal is inappropriate on many levels, but it’s not surprising. The state already has the lottery. However, this doesn’t make it appropriate. It’s simply not the proper role of government for the state to be running business operations that belong in the private sector.
The proposal comes on the heels of reports that casinos on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation are taking significant losses as a result of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. And while the amendment would not permit a casino within 20 miles of an Indian Reservation, I would imagine that the Tribes are not going to be ecstatic about the idea. In fact, I can’t help but wonder if some of the motivation behind the proposal is retaliation for the protests?
Another issue facing the legislature right now is the implementation of the Medical Marijuana measure that was passed by about 64% of North Dakotan voters. I’m sure you’ve seen in the news that many people are upset because the legislature is basically revamping what the people voted on. Senate Bill 2344 is far more stringent than the measure voters passed. Oddly enough, the bill was co-sponsored by none other than Rep. Al Carlson.
So, essentially what we have here are proposals to make gambling more available to North Dakotans, while simultaneously making it more difficult for those same North Dakotans to access medical marijuana. Yes, it’s interesting. On the one hand, Carlson thinks voters should get to decide whether they can gamble, but in the case of marijuana not so much. Seems kind of hypocritical to me, but then again some legislators judge the appropriateness of a bill by how much the state can profit and little else.