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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: It's time to make legislative sausage
The shenanigans have already begun.
The House and Senate have similar rules that say bills killed in the first session cannot be brought back in the second year. Until recently, neither body enforced the rule, but the Senate began using it.
Morse wants a casino gambling bill. The House Ways and Means Committee was scheduled to vote on SB 366 last Tuesday, but put off the vote on the casino bill until this week. Earlier, the committee voted, 11-9, to kill House Bill 1633, which was the bill developed by the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority, and the same vote is expected on SB 366.
If those wanting decriminalization of marijuana want to force the Senate to pass it, then they could try to persuade 15 to 20 House members who need to switch sides on the gambling bill to pass it so the marijuana bill could be attached.
It goes on and on.
The strategic maneuvering can backfire, and a bill you really want can go up in flames as the additions and subtractions become a very delicate balance.
This is the time of year when you have to read all the amendments to bills because you never know what you will find.
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Eulogy: Repealing the death penalty was never a sure thing if you stopped and counted the votes in the Senate.
Thursday morning, before the Senate vote, it was obvious passage hinged on two senators, Bob Odell, R-New London, and Russell Prescott, R-Kingston.
Odell gave an impassioned speech, noting his past support for the death penalty, but said he would vote for repeal because if the state execute's Addison, he could not rationally explain to his grandchildren what had been done.
HB 1077 can come off the table by a majority vote before May 1, but after that, it would take a two-thirds majority, which is almost an impossibility.
Gas Tax: On Wednesday, the House is expected to approve Senate Bill 367 to increase the gas and diesel tax 4.2 cents to 22.2 cents, still the lowest in New England.
The House is not expected to change the bill, which would send it to Gov. Maggie Hassan's desk.
At last week's executive session on the bill, Republicans tried three different amendments, any of which would have doomed the bill when it went back to the Senate. The amendments would have removed a provision to close the Exit 12 ramp toll on the F.E. Everett Turnpike; turned Continental Boulevard over to Merrimack to maintain; and eliminated the $200 million in bonds for the completion of the Interstate 93 expansion between Salem and Manchester.
The increase in the gas tax would be the first since 1991 and would raise an additional $32 million a year, or about $588 million over the next 20 years.
All the money would be used to rehabilitate or maintain highways and bridges and to complete the Interstate 93 expansion.
Odell Retires: Odell announced the day after the death penalty vote he would not seek reelection to his District 8 seat this year.
Odell, who is Senate Ways and Means chairman and sits on the Senate Finance Committee, said he wants to spend more time with his family and friends and pursue some of his other interests besides politics and public service.
Odell's retirement will open up the seat for both Republicans and Democrats, who in some elections did not run anyone against him.
The race to replace Odell should be wide open.
Odell's announcement is the first, but several other senators are expected to follow him into retirement before the end of the session.
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