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Mich. Judge KOs Casino Compacts

January 19, 2000

LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ The Legislature violated Michigan’s Constitution when it approved four tribal casino compacts by a 1998 resolution, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Ingham County Judge Peter Houk ruled in a lawsuit filed by Democratic state Rep. Laura Baird and Taxpayers of Michigan Against Casinos.

The state said it will appeal.

The four compacts took effect in February, and only one casino is operating.

Engler negotiated and signed the compacts in 1997. The Legislature approved them during a late-night session through a resolution, which requires only a majority of lawmakers present.

Baird and former Attorney General Frank Kelley argued that the state Constitution required a majority of the Legislature to approve the compacts as new state law.

``My total interest in this has nothing to do with gambling. My interest is to protect the powers of the Legislature,″ Baird said.

Engler spokesman John Truscott said the decision could nullify not only the four compacts in the lawsuit, but also compacts with seven other tribes that were passed by resolution in 1993.

``It is very clear that this judge does not understand federal law or tribal law,″ Truscott said. ``We have never lost a case when it comes to the governor’s authority, and we don’t intend to lose this one.″

Bill Fulkerson, an attorney for the anti-casino group, said he’s unsure if the decision immediately voids the four compacts, but said he planned to discuss the next steps in the case Wednesday with the state attorney general’s office and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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