Beshear tells lawmakers to be ‘bold’ and pass betting bills, medical marijuana

Gov. Andy Beshear called on state legislators Wednesday to approve sports betting and historical horse racing in their upcoming session to generate revenue for more investment in education, infrastructure and other needs.

He also urged lawmakers in the 2021 General Assembly that begins Jan. 5 to approve medical marijuana, expand access to broadband and telehealth, protect the Affordable Care Act, support efforts to grow the agritech industry in the state, provide relief to businesses hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and replace an antiquated unemployment insurance system that has caused backlogs in the pandemic.

Saying the opportunities are incredible for a post-COVID-19 economy, the Democratic governor said lawmakers need to be “bold” in the 2021 session.

Beshear’s comments came during a 20-minute speech to the Kentucky Chamber’s legislative preview conference that was held virtually.

He painted his priorities for the upcoming session in broad strokes.

The governor said federal CARES Act dollars were critical in helping the state budget, which is expected to have a surplus in the fiscal year that ends June 30.

But he said Kentucky can gain more revenue for important projects by legalizing sports betting and finding a way for historical horse racing machines, which are virtually indistinguishable from slot machines, to continue operating after the Kentucky Supreme Court struck them down this year.

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