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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Fresh deck for casinos
"The basic sentiment was the bill passed last year was not that bad," D'Allesandro said. "If we had passed it, we would have had something in place right now.
While the number of video slot machines, 5,000, and table games, 240, proposed in the latest bill are not much different from the numbers proposed last year, D'Allesandro's new bill would split them between two casinos.
One casino would have 3,500 video slot machines and 160 table games, the other would have 1,500 video terminals and 80 table games. The license for the larger casino would cost $80 million, the license for the smaller casino $40 million. The application fees would also be different, $1.5 million and $750,000.
Another change would be the tax the state would collect on the video machines, going from 30 percent to 25 percent, but the new version would also collect 5 percent for the communities most affected by the sites - 3 percent for the host and 2 percent for the surrounding towns - and 1 percent for problem gambling programs.
Once both casinos are up and running, D'Allesandro said, the state should see about $190 million in revenue a year.
He points to the settlement over the state's mental health system, which will require about $30 million, and staffing needs to expand the bed capacity at New Hampshire Hospital for patients who now wait in hospital emergency rooms for services.
But he acknowledges he has been at this for a long time and calls himself the Larry Pickett of casino gambling. Pickett proposed the state lottery five times over a decade before lawmakers finally approved it.
He noted that the casino proposals in Massachusetts are gaining business support, something he acknowledges expanded gambling has not done in New Hampshire.
"We've got a long way to go," he said, "but I'm going to give it my best shot."
In the past, the House has waited to see what the Senate did with casino gambling, but not this year. After SB 152 was defeated, Hassan sought a committee to propose a regulatory scheme for the state to oversee casino gambling to answer the critics who said they wanted oversight in place before voting to expand gambling.
Forget about the personal effects of sparking a joint; lawmakers want to know how much legalizing marijuana could affect the state budget.
On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a public hearing on the marijuana legalization bill, House Bill 492, with discussion limited to how much the state stands to benefit from a 15 percent sales tax on the weed.
The public hearing is at 9 a.m.
Later that morning, supporters of a new middle-of-the-road approach to pot will hold a news conference.
Founded by former Rhode Island U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy and Dr. Kevin Sabet, SAM takes a health-first approach to marijuana and would neither legalize nor demonize the drug, according to a news release. SAM seeks to decrease marijuana use while removing criminalizing sanctions for users and small-time dealers, officials say.
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Narrow Networks: Much controversy followed the announcement of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield's Pathway network when the health insurer unveiled its plans to be offered on the state health insurance exchange.
When the Pathway network was announced, some lawmakers were quick to blame the Insurance Department for approving the plan.
Those who disagree will have an opportunity to voice their opinions. The Insurance Department will hold an informational hearing Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. at the Department of Environmental Services Auditorium, 6 Hazen Drive, to explain the standards and procedures for determining network adequacy, including the review the agency conducted on the Anthem plan.
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Right-to-Work: Killing right-to-work legislation for three years in a row is not enough to put a stake in its heart.
A fourth attempt comes this week when the Senate takes up the latest version of the bill, which looks exactly like the last three versions to prohibit employers and labor organizations from including fees for non-union members in collective bargaining agreements.
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BIG DAY: Gov. Maggie Hassan will give her first State-of-the-State address Feb. 5 to a joint meeting of the House and Senate in Representatives Hall.
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