EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

May 16, 2013

House panel rejects casino bill by one vote

Full House likely to vote on expanded gaming bill next week


Garcia has come under attack from other Salem officials because she is among four of Salem’s nine representatives who have not come out in support of a casino. The others — all Republicans — are Patrick Bick, John Sytek and Garcia’s sister, Bianca Garcia.

Salem’s five other state representatives support a casino, as do the town’s five selectmen and Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, co-sponsor of SB 152.

Morse said yesterday he was disappointed and believes allowing the amendments to be voted on would have gained more support for the bill.

“You would have had a different vote,” he said. “I think it would have made a difference.”

But he also said he’s optimistic about the full House vote.

“It’s obvious there is support for this legislation,” he said yesterday evening. “I think when the full House votes, it could be a positive vote.”

Rep. Robert Elliott, R-Salem, a member of the joint panel, was angry after the results of the roll-call vote were announced yesterday. He pointed to a newspaper photograph of Garcia.

“It came down one vote — her,” he said. “She is going to pay for that. I predicted it would be that close. The people of Salem are going to be furious.”

Other Southern New Hampshire panel members who supported the bill yesterday were Rep. Gary Azarian, R-Salem; Rep. Mary Griffin, R-Windham; Rep. Mary Allen, R-Newton; Rep. Frank Sapareto, R-Derry; and Rep. Anne Priestley, R-Salem.

When the legislation heads to the full House next week, lawmakers won’t be asked to consider a controversial amendment that would have decreased the host community’s share of casino revenue from 3 percent to 1 percent. The amendment angered some Salem officials, especially Elliott.

Before the roll call, lawmakers heard presentations on 17 amendments. But the committee didn’t vote on any of them, which frustrated bill supporters.

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