Thursday, July 28, 2011

Senate GOP Caucus Calls for Increased Transparency in Expanded Gaming Debate

With Beacon Hill leaders working to come to an agreement on an expanded gaming bill for release in the fall, the Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus is trying to ensure that the process will include ample time for legislators and the public to consider the content of any bill that becomes the subject of debate.

The order – which is scheduled to be taken up by the Senate at today’s formal session – stipulates that the Senate cannot “consider or act upon any bill authorizing any form of gaming not currently permitted in the Commonwealth,” including casinos or slot machines, until 10 calendar days after the filing of the report of said bill by the Senate Ways and Means Committee with the Senate Clerk.

“Expanded gaming is one of the most complicated and sensitive issues facing our state government, and one in which even minor variations can have major consequences politically and practically,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Given these facts, the legislative process to consider any gaming issues demands that people have time to review any bill to be taken seriously in order to make the informed decisions the subject deserves.”

“This order brings an additional level of openness and transparency to the process,” said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth). “By requiring 10 days to elapse between the time a bill is filed and the time the Senate actually votes on it, the public will have sufficient time to weigh in on the proposal and legislators will have a clear understanding of what’s included in the bill.”

“The gaming debate has been ongoing for over 15 years without resolution,” Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) said. “This request for 10 days so that legislators and the public can digest this important matter and offer thoughtful amendments is more than reasonable. Ten days would provide ample time for scrutiny and constructive dialogue.”

“I am so pleased that the Republican Caucus is pushing for more transparency as we continue working through the issues of expanded gaming,” said Senate Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “I believe 10 days is ample time to examine the bill and assess the implications of it. Such a requirement will benefit our communities, and ensure that this process remains fair and rational.”