TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Lawmakers in the Kansas House took up the state’s sports betting agreement into the early hours of Saturday morning. The plan raised questions as to whether a fund added to the bill could potentially be used to build a new sports stadium.
While, the sports betting measure has gained support on both sides of the aisle, some lawmakers expressed concerns over whether the plan was being rushed.
Rep. John Carmichael, a democrat from Wichita, favored a motion by Rep. Henry Helgerson, D-Eastborough, to adopt and appoint a new conference committee to work the bill.
“I don’t know what happened in the majority party’s caucus, but I know that in my caucus, there wasn’t any mention ever about 80% of the money going to build a new sports stadium, presumably in the Wyandotte or Johnson County area,” Carmichael said. “There wasn’t any discussion whatsoever about this new fourth branch of government called the LCC being in charge of making that decision…sadly, I feel like someone was pulling a fast one on me…”
Helgerson said he wants to make sure that the state is maximizing the profits and that everything is “above board.”
“Nobody has said what happens if we don’t build a sports facility…what happens to that money, and when it’s turned over to the finance council, not all of us can sit here and make that decision… and hear the testimony, but to a handful of legislators.”
Ultimately, Helgerson’s motion failed, with only about half of the lawmakers in the chamber voting in favor of the plan.
The committee report on the final Senate and House agreement was released once lawmakers took it up in the House.
Page 10 of the report shows the full amendment added to the measure that would establish the “Attracting Professional Sports to Kansas Fund.”
According to the amendment, 80 percent of the remaining moneys credited to the Lottery Operating Fund from the sports wagering revenues deposited in the Lottery Operating Fund would be required to be transferred to the Sports Fund.
The State Finance Council, which is comprised of a small group of lawmakers in leadership, would be to pledge all or a portion of those funds to benefit any professional sports team. It could also be pledged to payment of the principal or interest on any bond issued by the State or any municipality.
The bill would also provide financing structured as “pay-as-you go” if it was issued to fund the construction or expansion of a professional sports team’s primary facility.
For the full concurrent resolution on the sports betting bill, click here.