High profile hearings to be held this week in the legislature

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January 25, 2009 - 6:00pm

Public hearings on high-profile issues like gambling and the death penalty will be held this week. This afternoon (Monday), the Legislature's General Affairs Committee will hear testimony on a proposal to expand gambling in Nebraska. A constitutional amendment proposed by Senator Russ Karpicek of Wilber would allow up to three thousand five hundred video or electronic gaming machines at up to seven racetracks in the state. There are currently only five racetracks, so two new ones could be created.

Karpicek says the proposal will help support the racing industry and create revenue that can be used for road construction. Critics say expanded gambling's social costs outweigh the benefits. On Thursday, the Judiciary committee will hear two proposals on the death penalty. Senator Mike Flood of Norfolk is proposing to change the state's method of execution to lethal injection instead of the electric chair, which the state supreme court has declared unconstitutional. Meanwhile, Omaha Senator Brenda Council is proposing to repeal the death penalty. The hearing is certain to bring out advocates and opponents of capital punishment, which remains on the books even though the state currently has no constitutional means to carry it out.

The General Affairs Committee hearing on gambling will begin Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1510 of the Capitol. The Judiciary Committee hearing on the death penalty will begin Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1113 of the Capitol. Both hearings may also be seen via live streaming by clicking here

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