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Gambling, Obamacare Committees Forming in Senate

November 18, 2012 - 6:00pm

As expected, gambling will be back before state legislators in the 2013 session as will the Affordable Care Act.

A list of committees that will go before the state Senate during their organizational meeting on Tuesday includes Gaming, while incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, says he intends to form a Senate Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Legislators have acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is the law of the land, but they remain unconvinced that the mandated program will reduce costs for Floridians. Gov. Rick Scott has requested a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss the law.

Meanwhile, gambling options continue to grow in Florida.

In the 2012 session, a proposal to create a statewide gaming commission was unable to advance as the proposal included allowing mega-casinos to open.But Gaetz and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, have said that while they are opposed to expanding gaming in Florida, gambling choices have been proliferating and a clear direction is needed.

Malaysian-based casino giant Genting is behind an effort to put the question of casinos before voters in 2014. Internet cafes continue to proliferate, skirting the gambling rules by offering sweepstake prizes rather than directly offer cash rewards. Also, the state will have to start renegotiating its revenue-sharing compact with the Seminole Tribe that brings the state at least $233 million a year in exchange for exclusive rights to blackjack and other table games.

Any push for gaming will be strongly contested by entertainment giant Walt Disney World and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which have argued against the bill as competition for existing tourism dollars rather than an expansion of the economy.

The committee list as proposed by Gaetz:

(a) Agriculture

(b) Appropriations

1. Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice

2. Subcommittee on Education

3. Subcommittee on Finance and Tax

4. Subcommittee on General Government

5. Subcommittee on Health and Human Services

6. Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development

(c) Banking and Insurance

(d) Children, Families, and Elder Affairs

(e) Commerce and Tourism

(f) Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities

(g) Community Affairs

(h) Criminal Justice

(i) Education

(j) Environmental Preservation and Conservation

(k) Ethics and Elections

(l) Gaming

(m) Governmental Oversight and Accountability

(n) Health Policy

(o) Judiciary

(p) Military Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security

(q) Reapportionment

(r) Regulated Industries

(s) Rules

(t) Transportation

No standing committee shall consist of fewer than five members.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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