Republican leaders in the Iowa Senate are spending part of their weekend trying to come up with a compromise gambling bill. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says “it’s worthwhile to pursue any and all ideas that come forward.” The House passed a bill on February 26 that set up new, equal tax rates for riverboats and race tracks and forbid any new gambling licenses. Senators have struggled since then to come up with something that could pass the Senate. Iverson’s goal is to have a gambling bill pass a committee and be debated by the full Senate Monday. This past Thursday Iverson announced a plan had been hatched, but 18 hours later Iverson couldn’t say what the Senate would debate Monday. Iverson says other ideas have been presented and senators are “exploring other avenues.” Folks from the six counties that have passed gambling referendums have been lobbying senators for weeks in hopes of convincing them to vote to allow a few more riverboat casinos to set up shop in Iowa. Iverson isn’t making any predictions on whether those arguments have succeeded. Iverson says he can’t say what the outcome of the Senate debate will be. On the House side next week, House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says the House will start debating the bill that outlines the G-O-P plan for next year’s state budget. Rants says once the Senate passes a gambling bill, House members will wait a day to review it before beginning debate.Rants says he’s in no rush to adjourn. He says lawmakers will go home when their “work is completed.” Senate republican leaders have said they hope to end the 2004 Legislative session on Thursday.
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