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NYPIRG joins fight over casino referendum language

The New York Public Interest Research Group is calling for neutral language on this fall's ballot referendum to approve an expansion of casino gambling in the state.

"While NYPIRG has no position on how New Yorkers should vote on a the proposed casino amendment ... we believe this matter raises issues that go to the very heart of the way state government functions and the integrity of the process for revising the state's basic charter," reads a filing from NYPIRG Legislative Director Blair Horner and Legislative Counsel Russ Haven to state Supreme Court Judge Richard Platkin.

A copy of the filing is available below.

They found the proposed language deeply troubling and argued that it went beyond explanatory purposes. "The language recites many of the predicted benefits of approval advanced by casino boosters," NYPIRG wrote.

The referendum language, which has been criticized by good government groups, says, “The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?”

A challenge to the language was brought earlier this month by Brooklyn attorney Eric Snyder, who is opposed to expanding gambling in the state, and is arguing in his suit that the state BOE exceeded its authority when it included advocacy language in the referendum. A recent poll by the Siena Research Institute demonstrated that the positive language swayed public favor in support of the cause.

Later in the NYPIRG filing, it reads, "NYPIRG believes that New Yorkers are entitled to a neutral ballot proposal - not one which subtly or overtly nudges a voter in a particular direction."

A change to the language could be ordered on Friday, which would complicate things for local boards of elections.

Follow @Poozer87 on Twitter.

NYPIRG Casino Referendum Filing

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