Apr 21, 2015 4:32 PM

Landrigan: NH casino bill takes big step forward but by narrow margin


CONCORD - A N.H. casino bill did something others before it couldn't, moving through the House Ways and Means Committee for the first time ever.

"What do your constituents want?" Manchester Republican State Rep. Joseph Lachance said. "I can tell you mine overwhelmingly, 4 to 1, are watching how I will be voting on this and want this casino whether it’s in Salem or it’s in Gorham. It’s time; it’s the last chance dance.’’

And for the first time ever, the committee where past casino bills have gone to die, endorsed it by a 11-10 margin.

The tight state budget still up for debate clearly pushed some lawmakers to support this.

"We have an opportunity to bring some substantial new revenue to the state of New Hampshire that doesn’t come from N.H. residents,’’ said Rep. Don Leeman, R-Rochester.

But the leading House Democrats on tax issues insists profits from casinos are not reliable.

"We are not talking about a whole lot of money for the prospect of putting an industry into the state that can only exist with state approval,’’ said Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon.

And a former state prosecutor warns such a big business could corrupt New Hampshire government.

"An entity like that is going to have the potential for undue influence in this state’s politics," said Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett. "We saw this in the 19th Century with the railroads."

Supporters agree this sets up a tight vote before the full House two weeks from tomorrow.


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