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Court stalls on game room ordinance, but votes to cease issuing permits
by Tim Delaney
Jul 26, 2014 | 572 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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County Judge Rene Mascorro congratulates Lorraine Garcia on Tuesday morning, July 22 , for 10 years service to Refugio County. Garcia works in the county clerk's office.
Tim Delaney photo County Judge Rene Mascorro congratulates Lorraine Garcia on Tuesday morning, July 22 , for 10 years service to Refugio County. Garcia works in the county clerk's office.
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REFUGIO – On County Attorney Todd Steele’s advice to organize and clean up a draft ordinance and regulate game rooms in the county, county commissioners tabled action to begin the public hearing process to make the regulations law on Tuesday morning, July 22.

However, commissioners voted unanimously to cease issuing game room machine permits until the ordinance is in place.

“Without any desire to criticize or malign the draft ... my personal feeling is that it is disorganized and full of typos,” said Steele, when asked his opinion on the rough draft.

Steele went on to say the draft is unclear and lacks lots of definition on what the penalties are.

As an example, he pointed out that the draft ordinance, from its preamble through the document, refers to “coin operated machines” that will be permitted at $2,000 each. He said Coca Cola machines are coin operated.

“It’s very difficult to understand,” Steele said.

County Judge Rene Mascorro asked Steele if he could marry the Harris County game room ordinance, which has been a model of sorts for the local draft ordinance, with the rough draft.

Steele said back in January he asked the court to make a comprehensive list of what it wanted in the Refugio County ordinance.

Commissioner Gary Bourland said the draft of the ordinance is what the court wanted.

“I think I could sit down and rework it ... maybe using a similar outline that Harris County did,” Steele said.

Steele said it may take a couple of months to get a cleaned up and clarified draft.

What Mascorro called the “devil in detail” was treating one business differently than others.

“We have to be very careful writing this,” he said.

Another workshop seemed to be in the works to address some details, such as regulating the number of game rooms in the county and the maximum number of game room machines in each business.

Commissioners tabled scheduling public hearings until a finished draft is completed.

But commissioners in the meantime unanimously voted to cease issuance of game room machines until the ordinance is passed.

The county has issued more than 500 game room machine permits since Jan. 1.
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