The top Republican in the Iowa House says it may be necessary to schedule a “shoot-out at the O.K. Corral” in 2004 to get the issue of gambling decided once and for all. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says putting everything on the table makes sense. Rants says the public is better served by a scheduled debate on things like how many licenses should be granted, where should they be, what tax rates should be charged. But Rants says that debate’s a long ways off because there’s a great deal of uncertainty regarding gambling. The Iowa Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the tax issue, and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission meets next week to decide whether it will lift the moratorium on new gambling licenses. Rants expects lawmakers will have to tackle those contentious gambling issues sometime in 2004. Rants says gambling won’t be the focus of the upcoming legislative session. He says Republicans want to focus on jobs, education, health care and better management of the state’s finances. Republicans from the House and Senate met privately yesterday to chart their agenda for the 2004 Legislative session.
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