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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Casino bill continues to mock Grim Reaper
By a one-vote margin last week, the House rejected casino gambling for the third time in the two-year term.
But the vote did not end the debate. A representative who supported the Ways and Means Committee's recommendation to kill the bill filed to reconsider the vote, which will be done Wednesday.
If Kaen did not vote with the question tied at 172-172, the motion to kill Senate Bill 366 would have failed, and a motion to pass the bill would have been made.
To say the close vote was a surprise would be an understatement. It even caught casino supporters off guard, and they failed to ask for immediate reconsideration. Instead, leadership moved quickly to the third-reading motion, which ends the day and officially approves all the actions taken during the session.
If supporters had been successful and overturned the motion to kill the bill, eight amendments would have been in line for debate, some to make technical corrections, others to make more significant changes, such as increasing the tax rates and number of casinos, and others to add decriminalizing marijuana and Keno in restaurants, bars and clubs.
Several weeks ago, Morse refused to let the bill decriminalizing marijuana into the Senate, citing rules that forbid bills killed in the first year of the two-year session to come before the Senate in the second year.
Others who opposed SB 366 but preferred a different casino gambling plan also voted to overturn the committee and hoped to approve the bill with a different plan.
Would all of those 20 to 25 representatives voted for the bill on final passage? Probably not, and that would have put a stake in the heart of casino gambling for this year.
"We live to fight another day," said the bill's prime sponsor and longtime casino gambling proponent Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester.
And fight another day they will as House supporters are working to make sure the fence-sitters know what kind of financial crisis the state is facing.
Gambling supporters were working over the weekend to try to have the membership understand the entire scope of the problem, several said.
The most recent community is Jaffrey, home of Democratic Rep. Dick Ames, who chaired the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Committee and was the prime sponsor of HB 1633.
If the House votes down reconsideration, that will be the end, but if it doesn't, there are now nine amendments to deal with. One amendment would kill the bill in the Senate - decriminalizing marijuana - but the others may not.
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MET Showdown: The House and Senate are scheduled to hear how to fix the hole the MET ruling left in the state budget.
But it appears the Senate has one solution and the House another.
Last week, Morse said a short-term fix was needed to address the court's ruling and a long-term solution would phase out the MET assessed on hospitals' patient services.
If the House, Senate and Gov. Maggie Hassan agreed on a solution, there would not be two separate meetings.
Odell, Morse and D'Allesandro talked about applying the insurance premium tax to Medicaid bills, which would affect the three managed-care companies the state hired to run its Medicaid program. The proposal was floated last summer while a MET study commission met, but the idea has yet to be surface to address the court decision.
"I wouldn't be booking my June vacation just yet," said one longtime observer.
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Senate Challenge: Libertarian and Tea Party-leaning Republicans promised primary challenges for Republican state senators who voted in favor of Medicaid expansion, and they appear to be backing up their threats.
Kenda is the CEO of HireAbility, a Londonderry-based company.
In 2012, he flirted with the idea of running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but did not throw his hat in the ring and eventually endorsed the Republican nominee, Ovide Lamontagne.
Music in the Air: The sound of bagpipes can be heard several times a year before lawmakers begin their work for the day, but this week, cello and flute music will greet members of the House and Senate.
Members of New Hampshire Citizens for the Arts will greet lawmakers and give them "thank you" cards illustrated by students from Rundlett Middle School in Concord.
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