Implementation of Expanded Gaming Law Continuing
The implementation of a law allowing for up to three resort style casinos continued this week with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe officially requesting that the Governor enter into Compact negotiations with the tribe. Also this week, the tribe officially requested that the City of Taunton schedule a citywide referendum on the tribe’s proposal to build a casino in Taunton. The new state law requires the scheduling of a referendum before the tribe and the Commonwealth can commence official Compact negotiations. Under law, Taunton must schedule the referendum within 60 to 90 days of the tribe’s request, giving the city until June 10 to hold a vote.
In addition this week, Foxborough Selectmen debated appointing a team to determine the effects of a casino and to negotiate compensation from Las Vegas casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn. Selectmen previously rejected such a move but were urged by a Foxborough business leader to return to the casino issue. A vote on the matter will be decided in the next couple of weeks.
Senator Kerry Seeks Relief for Boston Businesses with No Power
On Tuesday night, an NStar electrical substation caught fire in Boston’s Back Bay causing power outages for 17,000 customers. By Thursday, about 4,000 NStar customers in Boston remained without power. Utility crews from throughout New England and New York worked to help restore power. Senator John Kerry on Thursday asked federal officials to provide economic relief to small business owners in the Back Bay that have been closed and lost business due to the power outage.
Approach of Committee Deadlines Force Legislative Movement
The Joint Rules (specifically Joint Rule 10) governing the Massachusetts Legislature requires most Joint Committees to take action on bills that have been referred to them by Wednesday, March 21st. This deadline has created a fury of activity over the past week with committees holding executive sessions to take action on bills before the deadline. The Joint Committee on Financial Services for example disposed of more than 200 bills on Thursday during a short executive session. The Committee gave a favorable recommendation to 35 bills while sending 185 bills to study.
Next week, Committees such as the Joint Committee on Public Health; the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure and the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy all have scheduled executive sessions for the middle of the week.
John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
290 Congress Street, Suite 200, Boston MA 02110