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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio gains ally in gambling fight



Mills_big In the debate over whether legislators must ratify a gambling deal between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, House Speaker Marco Rubio has enlisted the support of a former speaker, Democrat Jon Mills of Gainesville (1986-88).

Now a professor of law at UF, Mills argues it would violate Florida's Constitution to exclude lawmakers from ratifying such a deal. "The text of the Constitution specifically demands that no branch perform any function of another branch," Mills writes. The former speaker, who is under contract to the House at a rate of $350 an hour, amplifies on arguments made by Rubio, who opposes expansion of gambling.

Mills argues that Crist is trying to rewrite state law -- clearly a legislative function. "The 'banked' card games (e.g., blackjack) proposed to be allowed under the draft compact between the State and the Seminole Tribe are currently prohibited by the criminal code of Florida," he writes. "Under American Constitutional jurisprudence, no executive officer has the authority to override criminal law."

Crist has until next Thursday to agree on a compact with the tribe that will allow not only Vegas-style slots but other table games such as blackjack and baccarat. He has consistently said his "preference" is for the Legislature to ratify any deal.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:26am]


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