The Senate Finance Committee killed a bill that would have blocked the City of Richmond from holding another casino referendum after voters voted against a casino proposal in 2021. The bill would have granted the opportunity to build the casino to nearby Petersburg instead, and some committee members expressed a desire to study the potential implications of a Petersburg casino. The February 10 vote against the bill left the door open for Richmond to try again, and take the last of five casino licenses in Virginia. Now, State Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) is pushing to block Richmond through a budget amendment.
Morrissey was surprised by the opposition to SB 203, which had already passed out of the General Laws and Technology Committee in a unanimous vote.
“You don’t see that, so I got my suspicions, but I’ll just keep them to myself,” Morrissey said.
Later in the conversation with The Virginia Star, Morrissey said, “There are 21 lobbyists hired by One Casino to get this in Richmond. 21. We have myself pushing this in the Senate.”
However, despite the Finance Committee’s opposition to SB 203, the committee has approved a budget amendment that would order a review of the impact of a Petersburg casino while blocking localities that have already held a referendum on a casino from having another referendum until 2023. Morrissey thinks the amendment has strong support not only in the Senate, but also in the House of Delegates.
“We discussed this at length in our caucus, and there was 100 percent support among all of our Democratic caucus members that there will be an amendment in the budget, and I believe that there is support among Republicans,” he said.
By making the change in the budget, the legislation doesn’t enter the Code of Virginia and is only in effect while the biennial budget is active. Morrissey said that’s a normal response when legislation is blocked in committee.
He said, “You correct it. You legislate it through the budget. It’s not an unusual situation.”
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