LADIES AND GENTLEMEN PLACE YOUR BETS
With their work near complete, the Joint House Finance and Ways and Means Committee are ready to place their work products on the table this coming Wednesday. The full committee will hear from three subcommittees looking into regulations, revenues and community impacts. All three committees gave updates on some of the areas they have examined over the past several weeks. The issues ranged from changes in licensing fees to the amount of tax that will be paid for video slot machines and poker tables. Concern was raised over the number of new problem gamblers that would come from having a local casino in the neighborhood and the impact a casino would have on charitable gaming in the state. The subcommittee looking into regulatory oversight said rules and regulations should be put into place before going out for bids. Casino operators need to know the playing field before they start to pay $500,000 in nonrefundable filing fees.
One thing is certain; SB 152 will be a different bill when it emerges from the House committees looking into the measure. Still unknown, is how many of these changes will impact the bill’s likelihood of passage. On Wednesday, the Joint Committee will be sitting down and entertaining amendments to the bill followed by an afternoon session to vote up or down on the amendments. Chances are 50-50 that the bill will come out of committee with a recommendation to pass with a host of amendments. However, whether these changes will be enough to get it through the full House and back to the Senate is still very much in doubt. By all accounts the vote is expected to be close. And even if SB 152 were to pass it will no doubt go to a Conference Committee where members of the House and Senate will sit together to see if they can iron out their differences. The process is still far from over. And waiting in the wings is HB 1 and HB 2 the budget bills. The fate of many programs supported by Governor Hassan in her proposed budget need the additional revenue. And let’s not forget the gas tax increase, which the House supports, but the Senate budget writers do not. The House is supportive of raising the tax by 12 cents over the next couple of years while the Senate is disinclined to do so. Senate budget writers would prefer to take it from gambling revenues. All in all the upcoming weeks should prove to be very challenging to both sides of the anteroom.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED
After failing in its first attempt, the House voted to amend SB 119 to have a local suffragists honored in the State House. Marilla Ricker of Dover was the first woman to run for governor of the state despite not having the right to vote. The Senate refused to take up the bill so the House amended SB 119 dealing with the restoration of the State House Hall of Flags. The amendment calls for a portrait of the woman rights advocate to be hung in the State House.
BY THE SEA BY THE SEA BY THE BEAUTIFUL SEA
Two bills dealing with coastal seawater received approval by the NH House this past week. SB 163 would create a commission to recommend future legislation so coastal communities and the state may better prepare for rising sea levels. The second bill, SB 164 allows coastal and coastal watershed communities to include coastal management provides in the 10-year updates of their master plans. Opponents argued the bills were an over reaction to normal hurricane activity in New England. Supporters disagreed citing the rising sea level and the increase damage being done on a yearly basis to seawalls, rock barriers and flooded homes due to the storms.
- NH House panel to vote on casino bill (wmur.com)