The debate over the language in a Nov. 5 ballot proposition for casinos in New York has spurred a new bill in the state Legislature.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, would require the language of a referendum to be included in the bill passed by the Legislature putting it on the ballot. The bill appears to be in direct response to the upcoming casino referendum, which drew an (ultimately unsuccessful) lawsuit over the rosy wording of the question earlier this year.
As it stands, lawmakers must pass a proposed constitutional amendment in consecutive terms in order for a question to get on the statewide ballot. After that, the state Attorney General’s Office makes recommendations on how the question should appear on the ballot, but the state Board of Elections has final say.
The casino query has drawn criticism from good-government groups and DeFrancisco himself, who likened the wording to a “push poll.” The referendum touts the potential for “job growth” and allowing local governments to cut taxes with the help of casino revenue, but makes no mention of the potential negative effects of expanding gambling.
On Monday, the New York Public Interest Research Group called on media outlets to use a more neutral wording when describing the amendment or point out the negative impacts, such as the potential for gambling addiction and higher crime around casinos.
Here’s the DeFrancisco bill, which was introduced Oct. 18: