JEFFERSON CITY - The legislative committee reviewing the idea of gambling on passengers trains is already in the hole - even before it has met to thoroughly examine the idea.
The chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee had just one word to say about the idea - "No."
Sen. Danny Staples, D-Eminence, said that if such a proposal comes before his committee during the 1996 legislative session, he won't approve it.
"Passenger trains were designed to carry passengers. I take a dim view of putting slot machines on those trains," Staples said.
The idea to put gambling on trains came from Rep. Carol Mays, D-Independence, during the 1995 legislative session when Amtrak funding was being discussed.
Mays said that putting gaming cars on trains would be a good way to fund Amtrak without further digging into taxpayers pockets.
"It's an effort to keep the trains running in Missouri," said Rep. Bonnie Cooper, R-Kansas City, who is a member of the committee looking into the issue.
But Staples disagrees. "Riverboats were designed for gambling," he said, and added that gaming on trains would handicap passengers who are only there for the ride.
House Speaker Bob Griffin, D-Cameron, appointed a committee to work out the plan's details. So far, they have met once to decide when and where the next hearings will take place.
The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16 in Kansas City, Cooper said.