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Senate opens way for Chicago casino

Updated: July 6, 2012 10:28AM

SPRINGFIELD — For the second year in a row, the Illinois Senate approved a gambling expansion plan that would call for a Chicago casino ­— and for a second year in a row, it faces a buzzsaw known as Gov. Pat Quinn.

On the dubious strength of an errantly cast voting switch, the expansion plan passed on a 30-26 roll call, the bare majority needed to approve the bill and six votes shy of the vetoproof majority needed to overcome the objections of Quinn, who has criticized the legislation for its “ethical shortcomings.”

The development made for one of the more intriguing storylines on a hectic final day of the spring legislative session when lawmakers also voted to hike fees on satellite television customers, strip-club patrons.

On the gambling bill, which was backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, supporters used a parliamentary maneuver to immediately lock in the 30-26 roll call before state Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago), a traditional opponent to gambling expansion, stood to say she wanted to have her “yes” vote reflected as a “no” in the official Senate record ­— even though that gesture carried no real effect and did not undo what had happened.

Collins told the Chicago Sun-Times that Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), who sits near her, deployed her voting switch when the gambling vote was taken even though she wasn’t at her seat.

“I have a headache, and I was in the back getting an aspirin. I always vote ‘no’ on gaming, but when I came out, I saw I’d been voted ‘yes,’” Collins said.

“I try to stand on my word, integrity,” she said, when asked if it bothered her that someone else had cast a vote for her on an important bill. “I see it as expansion. So, I’m a little bit upset.”

 The top Republican in the chamber, Senate Minority Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), who voted against the gambling bill, called for an investigation. “That is absolutely wrong. It changed the outcome of a major issue,” she said.

On other issues, the cost of watching ESPN, “Glee” or “Mad Men” could jump soon for satellite television subscribers after the Illinois Senate Thursday voted to impose a 5-percent tax on the industry to pump $75 million annually into schools.

That Senate Democratic initiative, which passed 30-27 but wasn’t called by the House before it adjourned, surfaced after rank-and-file Senate Democrats complained about more than $200 million in education spending cuts in the upcoming state budget that House Democrats devised.

While that fee increase awaits House action, customers of strip clubs could see a more immediate increase in the cost of their visits after the House voted 92-23 to send Gov. Pat Quinn a measure imposing a $3 admission tax with proceeds going to rape-crisis agencies.

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), chief House sponsor of the bill, explained her legislation would apply to clubs that feature nude dancing and serve alcohol or permit its consumption and is an attempt to cut down on the “secondary negative effects associated with sexually-oriented businesses.”

The House also voted 61-56 to impose a $2 increase on the cost of annual license plate fees to raise $32 million for the Department of Natural Resources to spend on decaying state parks across Illinois. The Senate later rejected the measure.

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