THE HOUSE AND SENATE. There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week. This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call looks at Question 3, one of the four questions on the ballot that will be decided directly by the voters in November.
The question asks voters if they want to repeal a 2011 law legalizing gambling and allowing three casinos and one slot parlor in the Bay State. The state’s Gaming Commission has already awarded licenses to Penn National Gaming for a slot parlor at the Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville. It has also chosen MGM Resorts to build the Western Massachusetts casino in Springfield and Wynn Resorts for the Eastern one in Everett. The commission anticipates the Southeastern license will be awarded in August 2015.
Here are the official arguments, gathered by the secretary of state, by each side of the question:
FOR REPEAL: Written by Repeal The Casino Deal Committee. For more info, go to http://www.Question3Facts.org or call 617-701-7823.
“Massachusetts can do better than casinos. Just ask the ‘experts’:
Governor Patrick, Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray agree: No casino in their hometowns.
The former CEO of American Gaming said he would ‘work very, very hard against’ a casino in his hometown.
Ledyard, Connecticut’s mayor said there has been ‘no economic development spin-off from (Foxwoods). Businesses do not come here.’
Moody’s downgraded its casino outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’and Fitch Ratings said the casino market ‘is reaching a saturation point.’
Indiana prosecutors needed an additional court just to handle casino-related crimes.
Listen to the experts. Vote Yes: Stop the casino mess.”
7.Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2014, “Casino Boom Pinches Northeastern States Influx of Competition Leaves Early Players—Such as Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia—Struggling to Keep Bets Flowing,” by Scott Calvert and Jon Kamp
AGAINST REPEAL: Written by Domenic Sarno, Mayor of Springfield. For more info, go to http://www.ProtectMassJobs.com or call 617-520-4559.
“A ‘no’ vote will preserve the state’s Expanded Gaming Law, generating thousands of construction and permanent jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for our cities and towns. Every year Massachusetts residents spend close to $900,000,000 at casinos in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine, adding millions to their state budgets.
The law already has provided voters in several communities, including Springfield and Plainville, an opportunity to bring much-needed jobs and economic activity to their communities through first-class development projects. At the same time, the law has ensured that no community opposed to a casino within its borders will have one. To help further protect residents, the law contains industry leading consumer safeguards and dedicated public health funding.
Vote ‘no’ on Question 3 to create jobs, economic growth and much-needed new revenue in Massachusetts.”
LOCAL LEGISLATORS’ VOTES FROM 2011 ON CASINOS
In November 2011, the House 121-33 and the Senate 24-13, approved the casino bill and Gov. Deval Patrick signed it into law.
Two legislators, Reps. Brain Ashe (D-Longmeadow) and John Rogers (D-Norwood) both voted against the bill on this roll call but switched their votes on a later roll call and voted for it.
(A “Yes” vote is for the casinos. A “No” vote is against them.)
Rep. Denise Provost No Rep. Carl Sciortino has resigned Rep. Timothy Toomey Yes
The votes of your senators on the casino bill were inadvertently omitted from the earlier report you received. Here are how your senators voted. Please add their votes to the votes of your representatives.
Sen. Patricia Jehlen No
ALSO UP ON BEACON HILL
NURSE STAFFING RATIO – A new law that establishes nurse staffing ratios in intensive care units of hospitals went into effect last week. The measure limits the ratio to one nurse for one patient, or one nurse for two patients in special circumstances as assessed by the nurses on that unit.
Supporters say this will protect and even save the lives of critically ill patients. They note this is the first step toward the goal of having staffing ratios in every unit in every hospital.
ALLOW LIQUOR STORES TO OPEN EARLIER ON SUNDAYS (H 228) – Some liquor stores are gearing up for Sunday, October 25 — the first Sunday that liquor stores will be allowed to open at 10 a.m. Prior to passage of this new law in July, these stores were prohibited from opening until noon. A total ban on Sunday sales of alcohol was state law until 2003 when the ban was repealed.
Supporters say the measure will allow Bay State liquor stores to compete with those in border states that open before noon on Sundays.
Opponents say studies have shown the earlier hours do not increase liquor sales but rather spread existing sales out over a longer period of time.
WASTE DISPOSAL BAN – Last week the Patrick Administration’s statewide commercial food waste ban went into effect. The ban, regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), requires any entity that disposes of at least one ton of organic material per week to donate or re-purpose the useable food. All remaining food waste must be shipped to a facility where it will be converted to clean energy or sent to composting and animal-feed operations.
“The food waste disposal ban is a critical piece of the Commonwealth’s strategy to reduce solid waste generation and support the production of clean, renewable energy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. She said the ban will help the state reach its goal to reduce the waste stream by 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
Officials say the ban, which does not apply to private residences, will affect approximately 1,700 businesses and institutions, including supermarkets, colleges, hotels, convention centers, hospitals, nursing homes, large restaurants, and food service and processing companies.
CREDIT UNIONS (S 2379) – The Senate approved a bill allowing the banking commissioner to expand from the current 50 miles to 100 miles from the main branch the distance at which credit unions are permitted to have a branch office. Supporters said the measure also makes other changes that will help credit unions provide better services to their members.
TASER GUNS (H 3315) – A bill that would require all newly purchased taser guns used by police officers to include an audio recording device is languishing in a House committee since it was give initial approval there on June 26. The proposal would only take effect in cities or towns that approve it and also “grandfather in” existing taser guns already owned by the city or town.
Supporters say this will ensure there is an accurate audio recording when a taser gun is used so there won’t be any questions about what was said by the police officer or the person who is tased.
TELEFUNDRAISERS ON “DO NOT CALL” LIST (H 190) – Also stuck in committee is a bill that would add telefundraisers to the “Do Not Call Registry,” which restricts telemarketing companies doing business in the state by allowing consumers to sign up for the list and fining companies up to $5,000 if they call an individual on the list. Telefundraisers are private for-profit companies that raise money for charities but also take a percentage of the money they raise. The charities themselves would not appear on the list and would still be free to call anyone.
Under the bill, the phone solicitors would be required on each phone call to state the name of the private company for which they are working and, if asked, reveal how much of the money raised actually goes to the charity. Under current law, companies are allowed to say that 100 percent of the money goes to the charity because technically it does–at least until the charity pays the company its fee and the 100 percent is reduced to as low as 20 percent.
Supporters say many people, especially seniors, are being misled and fooled by these companies. They note the bill will increase the amount of money that goes directly to charities. The bill is being spearheaded by Pearl Cohen of Bridgewater, who was a telefundraiser for 17 years but is now working to expose and ban what she calls “unethical and deceptive practices” by these companies.
“We’ll see what happens.”
Mitt Romney when asked about a possibility of another presidential run in 2016.
“To get serious about it is going to have to wait until January because I’ve got a day job right now.”
Gov. Patrick when asked if he has started looking for a job for when he leaves the governor’s office in January.
“It moves us closer to our ultimate goal, which is to extend safe patient limits beyond the intensive care units to all other units of our hospitals to protect every patient.”
Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United on the new law, effective last week, that limits the intensive care unit staffing ratio to one nurse for one patient, or one nurse for two patients in special circumstances.
“The food waste ban provides a win-win-win-win-win-win for residents and businesses … It will reduce waste, save money on disposal costs, create renewable energy, cut emissions from fossil fuel use, produce a rich fertilizer for farm use, and grow jobs and stimulate the economy.”
MassDEP Commissioner David Cash on the state’s commercial food waste ban that went into effect last week.
HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.
During the week of September 29-October 3, the House met for a total of 33 minutes and the Senate met for a total of 46 minutes.
Mon. September 29 House 11:05 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.
Senate 11:02 a.m. to 11:24 a.m.
Tues. September 30 No House session
No Senate session
Wed. October 1 No House session
No Senate session
Thurs. October 2 House 11:04 a.m. to 11:22 a.m.
Senate 11:07 a.m. to 11:31 a.m.
Fri. October 3 No House session
No Senate session
Bob Katzen welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org