05-R 228

2005 -- H 6396 AS AMENDED

Enacted 05/04/05

 

H O U S E R E S O L U T I O N

RESPECTFULLY REQUESTING THE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT TO GIVE A

WRITTEN OPINION UPON CERTAIN QUESTIONS OF LAW

     

     

     Introduced By: Representative Timothy A. Williamson

     Date Introduced: April 26, 2005

 

 

     WHEREAS, Article X, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and

Providence Plantations provides that "the judges of the supreme court shall give their written

opinion upon any question of law whenever requested by the governor or by either house of the

general assembly;" and

     WHEREAS, There is currently pending before the House of Representatives of the State

of Rhode Island a bill, 05-H 6429, "An Act Relating to Sports, Racing and Athletics and

Extension of Gaming Activities to Include a State-Operated Casino," which, if enacted and

subsequently approved by an affirmative vote of the majority of those electors voting in a

statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the

municipality in which the proposed casino gaming facility would be located, would permit,

authorize, and direct the creation, operation, and regulation of a state-operated casino gaming

facility; and

     WHEREAS, An earlier enactment of the General Assembly attempting to permit,

authorize, and direct the creation, operation, and regulation of a casino gaming facility was the

subject of an advisory opinion of the Rhode Island Supreme Court in In re Advisory Opinion to

the Governor (Casino), 856 A.2d 320 (R.I. 2004), in which the Supreme Court advised that the

earlier enactment was unconstitutional because the proposed casino constituted a lottery under

Article VI, Section 15 of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence

Plantations, and the casino proposed by that legislation was not operated by the state; and

     WHEREAS, As provided by Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution of the State of

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, if enacted by the General Assembly, 05-H 6429 will

require, prior to becoming effective, an affirmative vote of the majority of those electors voting in

a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the

municipality in which the proposed casino gaming facility would be located, the town of West

Warwick; and

     WHEREAS, The House of Representatives seeks to assure the people of the State and of

the town of West Warwick, prior to enactment of 05-H 6429 and submission of the question to

the people of the State and of the town of West Warwick in the special election contemplated by

05-H 6429, that the proposal is constitutional; and

     WHEREAS, The question whether a state-operated casino gaming facility shall be

established in Rhode Island presents a question of enormous public importance and interest; and

     WHEREAS, It is in the interests of all sides in the public-policy debate as well as the

interest in legislative and judicial economy to have resolved the question of the constitutionality

of 05-H 6429 at the earliest possible time; and

     WHEREAS, The referendum contemplated by 05-H 6429 would be scheduled for

November 8, 2005; and

     WHEREAS, In order to allow timely preparation for such referendum, and to meet

various timing requirements under 05-H 6429, the constitutionality of 05-H 6429 needs to be

determined on an expedited basis; and

     WHEREAS, The questions of constitutionality presented below are pure questions of law

involving consideration of the proposed legislation in light of the language of the Constitution;

and, now, therefore be it

     RESOLVED, That in accordance with Article X, Section 3 of the Constitution of the

State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the House of Representatives of the State of

Rhode Island hereby respectfully requests the Justices of the Rhode Island Supreme Court to give

a written opinion, on an expedited basis, upon the following questions of law concerning the

proposed act, 05-H 6429:

     (1) Would the proposed act, if duly enacted into law and approved by the electors of the

state and the town of West Warwick, comply with the requirement of Article VI, Section 15 of

the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations that all lotteries

permitted in Rhode Island be operated by the state?

     (2) Would the proposed act, if duly enacted into law and approved by the majority of the

electors of the state and the majority of the electors of the town of West Warwick at the special

election provided for by the proposed act, comply with the provisions of Article VI, Section 22 of

the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations requiring a statewide

and municipal referendum to become effective?

     (3) Would the proposed act, if duly enacted into law and approved by the electors of the

state and the town of West Warwick, violate the equal protection clause of Article I, Section 2 of

the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in: (a) granting to the

Narragansett Indian Tribe and its chosen partner the right to enter into an exclusive contract as

casino service provider; or (b) in providing that the state retain a share of net casino gaming

income that is different from the share of net income that the state retains from other gambling

facilities in the state?

     (4) Would the proposed act, if duly enacted into law and approved by the electors of the

state and the town of West Warwick, be violative of the equal protection clause of Amendment

XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States, in: (a) granting to the Narragansett Indian

Tribe and its chosen partner the right to enter into an exclusive contract as casino service

provider; or (b) in providing that the state receive a share of net casino gaming income that is

different from the share of net income that the state receives from other gambling facilities in the

other gambling facilities in the state; and be it further

     RESOLVED, That a duly certified copy of this resolution, together with a copy of the

bill, 05-H 6429, be transmitted forthwith by the House of Representatives to the clerk of the

Supreme Court, to be presented immediately to the justices of said court for their consideration.

     

=======

LC03113/2

=======