The state would put the licenses for Prairie Meadows and the Dubuque race track on the auction block under the latest plan to emerge at the statehouse. The plan cleared the Senate Ways and Means Committee last night and is set for debate today in the full Senate. It puts Prairie Meadows up for a bid of at least 150 million and Dubuque up for 10 million. That 160 million is equal to the amount the state owes the race tracks because they sued the state over taxes, and won. Senator Larry McKibben, a republican from Marshalltown who’s chairman of that panel, denies the plan is payback. McKibben says senators are merely “dealing with the issues (they’ve) been dealt.” The other race track in Iowa would not have to pay a fee.McKibben says Council Bluffs has been “very cooperative” at all times in trying to find a way to come up with a plan that wouldn’t “stick” Iowa taxpayers with the back taxes the tracks are owed. Senator Matt McCoy, a democrat from Des Moines, was livid. McCoy says McKibben and the republican senators who crafted the latest plan have “declared war on Polk County” and Prairie Meadows.McCoy says republicans talk about the arrogance of Prairie Meadows managers who sued the state over tax policy, but McCoy accused McKibben and republican senators of being arrogant because democrats were excluded from any decision making on the issue. The plan offers a ray of hope to the six counties that have passed gambling referendums. It does not mention a moratorium on new riverboat licenses. That means the issue would go back to the Racing and Gaming Commission. McKibben says that’s superior to the House-passed plan.McKibben says the House bill forbids any new slot machines, so it means the Osceola riverboat would be barred from installing any more slot machines, while Prairie Meadows would get to add table games, as the House-passed plan gives Prairie Meadows and the other tracks the opportunity to add roulette, Black Jack and other table games.
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