A package of bills that revises the operating procedures of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), based on recommendations from a grand jury report, cleared the House Gaming Oversight Committee the week of October 17. A Republican Caucus spokesperson said the bills are expected to move quickly on the House floor.
“These bills, especially the ones that create greater transparency on the board, are a very high priority for us,” said spokesperson Donna Pinkham.
Chairman of the Committee, Curt Schroder, R-Chester, said the transparency bills stem directly from recommendations made in a June, 2011 grand jury report.
“We have more bills planned that also reflect the grand jury‟s recommendations,” Schroder said. “They will be coming through the committee over the next few weeks.”
The grand jury report detailed a culture of “noncriminal misconduct” in which officials not only turned a blind eye to potentially criminal activity, but commanded investigators to do the same.
One of the recommendations from the grand jury included removing the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement from the PGCB and placing it under the Attorney General‟s office. The House Oversight Committee approved that bill, HB 262, in March. The Senate has yet to take action on the bill.
One of the bills approved by committee, HB 2007, requires the PGCB to include a listing of the number of executive sessions conducted each year and the agenda for each session in their annual report to the governor and General Assembly. Another, HB 2009, requires the PGCB to list on its website a description of all Right-to-Know requests that have been approved or rejected, the number of appeals and the outcome of any appeals. And another, HB 2014 requires the Board to post its budgetary guidelines, including the salaries of all board members and employees, on its website.
The committee also cleared legislation that would allow the revoked Foxwoods license in Philadelphia to be put up for bid statewide.
“The bill will enable the Commonwealth to maximize its return on the license by permitting it to be located anywhere in the Commonwealth,” Schroder said.