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May 19, 2013

Casino bill up for House vote this week

Casino bill's future uncertain in vote Wednesday


Besides the closeness of last week’s vote, advocates think the joint committee’s refusal to consider amendments could push the bill over the top. They believe action on amendments in committee would have resulted in a recommendation for passage.

“If we had followed the proper process and debated the amendments, this would have come out ‘ought to pass,’” Azarian said.

“Many members are upset about what’s happening,” Sapareto said.

Whether there are enough of them upset enough to pass the bill, and in what form, is a question the House will resolve Wednesday.

Elliott is convinced if lawmakers get the votes for the omnibus amendment, answering all the concerns raised in committee, a win is likely.

“I say we have a victory,” he said.

House lawmakers are hearing about the issue, including from Gov. Hassan.

“The governor believes it is important to have an open dialogue, and she continues to have conversations with members of the House on variety of issues, including SB 152, in order to discuss the need to invest in the priorities that are critical for creating jobs and building a more innovative economic future,” spokesman Marc Goldberg said.

Trade unions that hope to see construction jobs from a casino also are working lawmakers.

Rep. Patrick Bick, R-Salem, said he is getting calls and emails. His colleagues are trying to convince him to change his mind about a casino.

“The one who mainly talks to me is Bob Elliott,” Bick said.

Bick is a freshman lawmaker, one of four Salem representatives who up to now have opposed the casino bill. The others are fellow Republicans, sisters Marilinda and Bianca Garcia, and John Sytek, whose wife, Donna, was a steadfast opponent to expanded gaming when she was Speaker of the House.

“I’ve opposed this since the beginning,” Bick said.

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