DES MOINES, Iowa — The odds are moving in favor of legalized sports gambling in Iowa.
On Thursday afternoon the Senate Ways and Means Committee approved SF 366 along party lines, keeping the bill alive for debate this session. Friday marks the end of another funnel week at the legislature. Bills that fail to make it out of committee by the end of the week are no longer eligible for the session.
The sports gambling bill, which would allow bets to be placed at licensed casinos, was met with concerns from Democrats on the committee. The bill includes an amendment that requires Prairie Meadows in Altoona to use gambling profits to subsidize horse racing purses. No other casino is required to do so. Republican Senator Roby Smith couldn’t say why Prairie Meadows was singled out. However he says no matter how the profits are split at the casino, local charitable grants will still be funded with the money.
Another bill that was a legislative priority for Governor Reynolds will not move on this year after a fellow Republican blocked a vote on it. Senator Brad Zaun removed House Joint Resolution 14 from the Senate Judiciary calendar. The move blocks a vote before the end of this funnel week. The bill called for a statewide vote on a Constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights.
On Wednesday a controversial bill that’s already passed in the Senate was defeated for this session in the House. SSB 1170 would have increased the penalties for unlawfully killing an unborn baby. Opponents of the bill say it would changed the legal definition of when life begins and likely would have led to legal challenges. An Iowa House committee voted the bill down.