The Globe beat me to it, but I'm just now getting the chance to blast the state legislature for trying to increase the amount of gaming income diverted to purses at horse tracks. Both houses passed the new version of the bill, containing that change, yesterday. (As I write, there is word that they may try to back up and rework this provision.
A joint statement just came from senate president Therese Murray and house speaker Bob DeLeo, saying that expanded gaming legislation will not be debated in the legislature until after Labor Day.
That's a setback for DeLeo, who had been publicly pushing to debate gaming in July, once the budget was done. On the other hand, maybe this could be read as a sign that Murray does expect to move on gaming this fall, which would be something.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives does not seem to be in a great rush to work on Governor Deval Patrick's and Senate President Therese Murray's top priority of the session, health care cost containment, Liz Kowalczyk writes in the Globe. So true. In fact, I've found that when you mention health care cost containment to people on the House side, they tend to assume you're talking just about moving municipalities to GIC for health insurance; the big reform Patrick and Murray are talking about doesn't seem to even be on their radar.
In this week's issue of the Boston Phoenix -- online and in print now -- I write about the end of the Massachusetts legislative session last week, which of course was dominated by the ultimately failed attempt (at least, as of this writing) to pass an expanded gaming bill.
I suggest that those with the most experience at working in these kinds of high-stakes Beacon Hill showdowns were the ones who fared best: senate president Therese Murray most notably, but to some degree Governor Deval Patrick and Treasurer/gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill as well.
Governor Deval Patrick has pushed for three casinos, but opposed slots at race tracks.
His Republican challenger, Charlie Baker, supports one casino, to test the waters.
Independent candidate Tim Cahill supports casinos and racinos.
The legislature has crafted a bill with casinos and racinos. Let's assume it passes, and Patrick vetoes it.
In the final hours, as often happens, the deals were made to reconcile the differences between the two chambers, and a whole bunch of legislation is pouring through the Massachusetts state legislature.
I haven't had a chance to find out how all those differences have been resolved in those bills, but my initial indicators are that an awful lot of them went in favor of the state senate.
Word was strategically getting around earlier today that the Massachusetts House and Senate were "getting to yes," as senate president Therese Murray has put it, on the gaming bill -- to include two licenses for slots-only facilities.
That was not yet officially announced, but was pretty clearly meant to be the story for the evening news.
With the end of the 2009-'10 formal legislative session fast approaching, Beacon Hill is jammed up over the question of how to shove money into the state's four existing race tracks -- including its two dog tracks, which are in particular financial trouble. Speaker Bob DeLeo wants the state to give the tracks licenses to install slot machines; Governor Deval Patrick wants instead to dedicate a portion of casino revenues to the tracks, a position that Senate President Therese Murray agrees with, if I'm not mistaken.
Lots of news going around yesterday and today. Some thoughts:
--No surprise that Dianne Wilkerson is pleading out, three weeks before her trial was set to begin. We probably won't know the sentence for a while yet, but it's sure to include prison time. To me, it's a sad, tragic personal story. I don't have much sympathy for her -- she's made her own bed -- but it's just sad that someone with so much potential failed so badly to live up to it.