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Capital Beat

State House Live: N.H. Senate’s two-casino bill fails in House by single vote

Becky Ranes, holds a photo of her son Joshua Savyon, who was killed in a murder-suicide last August that resulted from a domestic dispute, before she testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee regarding a bill making domestic violence a crime on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.  Joshua was nine years old at the time. 
 
(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor file)

Becky Ranes, holds a photo of her son Joshua Savyon, who was killed in a murder-suicide last August that resulted from a domestic dispute, before she testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee regarding a bill making domestic violence a crime on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. Joshua was nine years old at the time. (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor file)

3:20 p.m.: House members killed the Senate’s two-casino bill by a single vote this afternoon, with Deputy Speaker Naida Kaen, a Lee Democrat, breaking a 172-172 tie.

This vote was the final nail in the casino coffin for this legislative session. Earlier in the session, the House voted down a bill to legalize one casino by 29 votes. This Senate bill added an additional casino and $25 million in revenue sharing. During a two hour debate this afternoon, casino foes and supporters reiterated mainly old arguments.

“I feel like this is deja vu all over again,” said Rep. Gary Richardson, a Hopkinton Democrat. “We had this debate a month ago, but the problems have not gone away.”

One new argument in favor of casinos centered on a possible loss in revenue from the Medicaid Enhancement Tax, recently deemed unconstitutional by two superior court judges. Rep. Peter Leishman, a Peterborough Democrat and member of the House Finance Committee, said the state had a revenue problem even before the MET ruling.

“Don’t be fooled when you hear the opponents say it’s all about the MET tax. Yeah, that’s a huge problem too, but this problem existed long before the MET tax,” Leishman said. “We need the money, we need it now, we’re in a crisis.”

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Manchester Republican, urged his colleagues to overturn the committee recommendation to kill the bill. A number of lawmakers had prepared amendments to tack on had the inexpedient to legislate motion been flipped. Several lawmakers had hoped the Senate would be willing to accept several marijuana bills in order to pass casino gambling.

Any House member on the prevailing side of the vote, meaning those who voted to kill it, can ask for the bill to be reconsidered for a second vote until noon tomorrow.

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11:08 a.m.: A bill to create the crime of domestic violence sailed through the House this morning, 325-3. It has already passed the Senate and will now go to the governor’s desk.

The bill is known as Joshua’s Law in honor of Joshua Savyon, the young boy killed in a murder-suicide by this father at a Manchester YWCA law fall. The bill does not create any new crimes, but instead organizes existing crimes under a domestic violence category if the crime is committed between family members or intimate partners.

Under current law, someone who beats his or her partner would likely be charged with simple assault, the same charge two strangers who get in a bar fight might receive. Supports of this law say it will allow police officers, courts and advocates to better identify and respond to domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is significantly more likely to escalate, up to and including homicide, than a fight between two strangers,” Rep. Shannon Chandley, an Amherst Democrat siad. “Domestic violence is a pattern that usually builds in intensity without intervention.”

A 2012 report by a governor’s commission found that 50 percent of homicides and 92 percent of murder suicides in New Hampshire are domestic violence related.

Becky Ranes, the mother of Joshua Savyon, testified before a House and Senate committee asking lawmakers to support the bill.

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Today, the House will consider the final gambling bill of the session, which would allow for two casinos in the state. They’ll also vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and a bill to create the crime of domestic violence, named “Joshua’s Law” in honor of the young boy killed by his father in Manchester last fall.

The anti gaming people are so afraid to hear the merits of the bill (and amendments), they voted to support the ITL that was recommended by the anti gaming Ways and Means Committee. With the $400 Million MET bill being put on the proverbial desk of the state, what solution do the anti-gaming people have? Income tax? Sales Tax? They won't tell you. But you can bet (no pun intended) it's one or both of them. So much for the NH Advantage!

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