Post Falls Rep. Frank Henderson’s bill to allow car-racing facilities to get special liquor licenses passed the full House on Thursday – but just by a hair.
HB 149 eked out approval by a 34-33 vote, with every North Idaho lawmaker voting for it except Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries.
The measure allows the three motor-racing facilities in the state, including Stateline Speedway in Post Falls, the opportunity to get special licenses like the ones golf courses and ski areas can get. Special laws have to be passed for facilities not in city limits to serve hard liquor.
The state would take in as much as $50,000 a year if licenses are issued to all three racetracks, Henderson said.
Senate OKs bill to allow simulcasts to move
Legislation to allow the simulcast betting operation at the Coeur d’Alene Greyhound Park to move to another location if the park is sold passed the Senate on Thursday.
No one debated against the bill, but 11 of the 35 senators voted against it, including many who oppose all gambling.
“I can assure you this does not expand or extend in any way dog racing in the state of Idaho,” Sen. Dick Compton, R-Coeur d’Alene, told the Senate. He said if the Greyhound Park were put to other uses, the simulcast betting likely would move to a smaller facility less than a quarter-mile away.
The betting operation now uses only about a third of the Greyhound Park, Compton said. The park is allowed to have off-track betting on simulcasts of races because it is the former location of live greyhound racing, which is now banned in Idaho.
The bill, SB 1074a, now moves to the House.
Committee nixes tax on pay-per-view fights
A House committee Thursday killed a bill brought by a North Idaho legislator who wanted fight promoters using pay-per-view broadcasts in Idaho to pay a 5 percent sales tax.
HB 151, authored by Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, would have given the money – estimated at nearly $40,000 annually – to the Idaho Athletic Commission, which governs all fights in the state.
Clark and others argued that the commission, which receives no state money, is hurting financially. But members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee said they saw no correlation between the special television broadcasts – which usually are national boxing and wrestling matches – and the athletic commission.
The bill died on a 12-5 vote. Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, was among those voted against it.
Sen. Noble confronted over hearing testimony
State Sen. John Noble was confronted about testimony he made under oath Tuesday at a Senate Ethics Committee hearing.
At the start of Thursday’s proceedings, Chairman Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, confronted Noble with his testimony that he has known “all along” that a State Liquor Dispensary rule precluded him from obtaining a state contract to sell packaged liquor.
Noble had used the argument in an attempt to show that he could not have financially benefited from a change in the state’s liquor laws that he authored and tried to pass earlier this month. Noble’s point was that if he couldn’t get a liquor contract, he would have no conflict of interest in trying to pass the legislation.
However, various news media, including the Associated Press, have recorded statements of Noble as recently as last Friday in which Noble said he could have gotten a state liquor contract with or without his legislation.
Additionally, Noble later acknowledged that his convenience store was for sale and that his store might be more valuable or salable if it came with such conditions.
When Hill asked Noble if he had misled the committee, Noble responded that he “could have misled the committee.”
At the end of Thursday’s hearing, Noble tearfully read a short statement apologizing but not admitting any intentional wrongdoing.
“Financial gain was not in my mind when I presented the bill,” Noble said.
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