Columbus, Ohio (April 24, 2014) – The Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition (OVFCC) announced Thursday that its video raffle program has now raised over $8 million for Ohio charities. These funds directly benefit veterans posts, fraternal lodges and hundreds of local 501c3 charities, with 50% going to veteran’s posts/lodges and 50% going to local 501c3 charities in communities across Ohio. In addition, a portion of the money raised by the OVFCC goes to fund veterans service officers who assist Ohio veterans in filing benefits claims with the Veterans Administration. Last year these veterans service officers helped return over $50 million in federal funds to Ohio’s veterans in need. Funding in jeopardy because of Governor Kasich’s opposition
But this critical funding is in jeopardy because of Governor Kasich’s opposition to the video raffle program. Attorney General Mike DeWine asked that veterans and fraternal groups seek legislation to clarify the law regarding video forms of raffle. But House Bill 325 (sponsored by Rep. Rick Perales) is stalled in the House Policy Committee due to opposition by Governor Kasich in favor of a Lottery Commission gaming system that directs critical funds away from local charities and into state coffers and the Lottery’s Greek-based vendor Intralot. “We can’t figure out why Governor Kasich wants to take funding away from Ohio’s veterans in need and local community charities. All this will do is help Intralot and their powerful lobbyists make a bunch of money on an outrageously overpriced $22 million Lottery gaming system that we believe is unconstitutional,” said Bill Seagraves, Director of the OVFCC and VFW of Ohio Charities. Just this week, funds from the video raffle program were used to pay the funeral expenses for a Dayton area Air Force reservist who was recently murdered and whose son is still missing. Click here to see Dayton television news story about how funds for initiatives like this are in jeopardy due to the Governor’s opposition. Court order allows video raffle program to continue
As a result of Governor Kasich’s opposition, veterans and fraternal organizations have filed suit against the state and have been granted a temporary restraining order by the Franklin County courts, enabling posts and lodges to continue operating video raffles without interference from state agencies while the court considers the suit. “We are still hopeful that the Governor will realize that his opposition to House Bill 325 could have a detrimental effect on veterans, charities and local communities,” said Seagraves. “It’s disappointing that our legislative leaders aren’t willing to move this legislation without the Governor’s support. We believe existing law is on our side and the courts will ultimately rule in our favor. But this whole mess could be avoided if the Governor would drop his opposition and legislative leaders would simply do their job instead of forcing us to ask the courts to determine public policy.”
Dayton’s NBC Affiliate, WDTN, already covered the VFW of Ohio Charities’ recent decision to fund the funeral of Nichelle McKnight, who was supposedly murdered within the last month.
Now, WDTN’s Jackie Sprague reports that the source for that funding, raised mostly through the OVFCC’s electronic raffle program, could be at risk if Governor John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine continue to oppose and House Bill 325.
The goal of the OVFCC is to support charities and communities by supporting veterans and fraternal groups across the state. Without the OVFCC, the VFW of Ohio Charities might not have had the funds available to cover the funeral and burial costs for one of their own. For reasons like this, and for many, many others, HB 325, the bill that clarifies existing law with regard to charitable bingo in the state of Ohio, must be passed by the Ohio House and Senate, and then signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich.
The Late Nichelle McKnight and her son, Zaden (courtesy WDTN-Dayton)
Nichelle McKnight and her son, Zaden, were killed in the basement of a Dayton home in late March, according to reports by WDTN, Dayton, Ohio’s NBC affiliate. While the details of the murders are not yet known, and the results of an investigation are still pending, one thing has been confirmed, which will hopefully ease the grieving process for the McKnight family and local residents.
The VFW of Ohio Charities, a proud and long-time supporter of the OVFCC will cover the cost of the funeral service and burial costs for McKnight.
While the murders are certainly a traumatic event for those involved or close to the family and town, the OVFCC is proud to support the VFW of Ohio Charities in their efforts to give back to communities in both the best and in the worst of times.
Vets at the Controlling Board Meeting (via @ohiocapitalblog)
In an unsurprising move on the part of the Ohio State Controlling Board, the Ohio Lottery was granted a budget expansion of $22.5 million to purchase 1,200 “next generation” electronic gaming machines from Greek manufacturer Intralot. The Controlling Board, a bipartisan group, voted unanimously to approve the expansion, and give the lottery the chance to corner the market, and expand legalized gambling to include Ohio veterans and fraternal posts and lodges statewide.
While the Controlling Board debated the issue before ultimately rubber-stamping the budget expansion, veterans and members of local fraternal and sports clubs sat in on the meeting, hoping that the legislators on the Board would voice the opinion of vets, fraternals and local charities that have emphatically opposed the lottery’s plan in favor of other solutions, such as Ohio House Bill 325.
If for no other reason, the Controlling Board’s decision comes without resolution of pending legal actions, or further debate and testimony over the constitutionality of the Lottery’s program, or the effectiveness of other programs that benefit more than simply K-12 education, which which is the only beneficiary of the lottery program. From the Dispatch:
Suzette Price, American Legion of Ohio service director, said after the vote that the Controlling Board “acted prematurely” by approving the lottery plan before a decision is rendered in the court case.
“They are forcing us to take an option we’re not comfortable with taking,” she said.
Sen. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, a Controlling Board member, questioned the expansion of gambling without “the opportunity to hold hearings and call witnesses.” He said going through the Controlling Board — an approach Gov. John Kasich used successfully in expanding the state’s Medicaid program — “is a poor substitute for legislative action.”
Ohio House Bill 325, unlike the Controlling Board workaround, would clarify current law statewide after testimony and debate, and would allow posts and lodges to give money to all charities, including and certainly not limited to statewide K-12 education.