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Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, right, D-Manchester, is still in search of at least one more vote to try and get a casino bill passed through the State Senate next week.

Mar 19, 2016 3:55 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report. Casino gambling's last gasp next week still in need of a final vote



It’s do or die next week for the casino gambling bill in the State Senate. Supporters need to get it out of the upper chamber by Thursday’s deadline or there’s no chance of reviving it for the rest of 2016.

Last week, Senate President and chief supporter Chuck Morse (R-Salem) again decided to take a pass on bringing his one casino bill to a vote.

The first reason was a key casino backer, Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) was absent.

But the New Hampshire Political Report confirmed even with Hosmer’s backing, the pro-casino crowd was still one vote shy of getting a 13-11 majority.

Watch for the potential for a marriage of the expanded gambling bills in order to keep the casino alive, albeit on life support.

Casino backers in the Senate are exploring whether they can get that additional vote by tacking onto their bill the House-passed measure to legalize betting on Keno, the video-style bingo game that’s played in bars and restaurants across Massachusetts.

Morse and other casino opponents have opposed Keno for years, maintaining that it not only would drain potential customers from a casino but that it also would raise too little new revenue to bother with.

This year, however, it’s clear the casino lobby is no longer able to have its way without conditions in the Senate.


Sometimes politically you win by losing.

That’s where Sen. Dan Feltes (D-Concord) found himself this week, on the short end of a highly-charged debate over labor laws, but not before he made his Senate Republican colleagues very uncomfortable.

The issue under debate was the so-called Ban the Box legislation, which would prevent firms from asking whether the job seeker has a criminal record on job applications.

Feltes had done his homework on the campaign and found that not only 21 states have banned the box, but the group includes some of political prominence.

And how. Four GOP contenders for the White House either sponsored the idea or, as chief executive, presided over getting rid of the box - Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Feltes underlined the point that with the nation’s lowest unemployment rate - 2.7 percent last month - this box prevents employers from seriously considering those who made a mistake, have paid their punishment and would be productive workers.

"This is about only giving people an opportunity to get a job,’’ Feltes said.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) said everyone supports giving people a second chance if they have been rehabilitated, but the amended bill contained many exceptions and still other industries were asking for more.

In short, the Senate GOP message was this bill is not ready for prime time.

Feltes won a pyrrhic victory when the Senate could not ship it off to study.

But after a closed-door caucus of Senate Republicans, a few wavering GOP senators got back in line and they voted, 14-9, to table the bill, effectively killing it.


Republican candidate for governor Frank Edelblut is looking to hire campaign talent.

That’s because his existing consultant, Ethan Zorfas, is a little busy and should stay that way for a while.

Zorfas worked on the presidential campaign of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and right after the first in the nation primary here, Zorfas headed down to Houston to work in the national campaign headquarters.

This is also a loss for Congressman Frank Guinta (R-NH); Zorfas is a former Guinta chief of staff and had been working as a consultant for Guinta’s re-election campaign.

Guinta obviously has Jay Ruis working on the political shop side for him, as well.


Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Gov. Maggie Hassan will fight about plenty when it comes to Second Amendment rights.

But there should be a notable exception to that - whether to retain the state permit to carry a concealed gun.

The Republican-led Legislature is once again on a collision course with Hassan over this issue.

The Senate is a lead pipe cinch to embrace the House-passed bill to repeal the gun permit law; it also has an alternative from Sen. Sam Cataldo (R-Farmington) to change the standard and make it harder for local cops to deny a permit for arbitrary reasons.

Hassan will surely veto this repeal bill if it reaches her, as she did a near-identical one last year.

Ayotte is unlikely, however, to lead the loyal opposition along with other gun owner advocates.

As attorney general, Ayotte defended the concealed carry permit against similar repeal efforts, and she enjoyed overwhelming support from police when she first ran for the Senate in 2010.

Meanwhile, she knows Hassan will aggressively try to win over the endorsement from local law enforcement groups in this race, and for many of them, this is a make or break issue.


The primary way may have been cleared for campaign finance reform advocate Dan Weeks, a Nashua Democrat, running for the Executive Council seat that Milford Republican Dave Wheeler now holds.

NH1 News first reported Weeks was getting into the race this weekend after having stepped down as executive director of Democracy Action.

Weeks told the NH Political Report that the other declared Democratic hopeful for the post, former Democratic nominee Jennifer Daler (D-Temple), has decided not to run.

"She’s made it clear she’ll be endorsing me, which I really appreciate, and will be critical to my building a strong organization,’’ Weeks said.

In 2014, the former state legislator Daler won the Democratic primary for this seat in a mild upset by beating a popular Nashua alderwoman before losing to Wheeler.

Thanks to redistricting of council seats in 2011, Wheeler’s Fifth District has become much more Republican than it has been in the past.

But Weeks remains optimistic that strength of the Democratic ticket above him can help pull off what would be a stunning victory for the first-time hopeful.


Senate Democrats have had very little to celebrate this year, but they got an important W this week.

The issue is over whether employers can retaliate against workers who make requests for a flexible work schedule to care for a young child or an older relative at home.

Despite moves by Senate GOP leaders to block it, the Senate passed the measure over to the House by a 13-10 count.

“The hard-working families of New Hampshire should not have to choose between work and family,” Feltes said. "SB 416 takes an important step forward in protecting workers who need to request a flexible work schedule due to family obligations, and I thank the Senate for their support.”

Sen. Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead) said it’s a gross overreaction.

"We want to make sure that any business-centered legislation strikes the balance between employer and employee rights, but this legislation inappropriately creates statute that is a solution in search of a problem,” Birdsell said.


Quote of the Week:

"It’s less than 20 percent of the work that gets done in a non-profit association. The rest of it is education and training; it is putting on insurance and selling insurance products.’’

- State Sen. Jerry Little (R-Weare, on how much lobbying was part of his job for nearly two decades as president of the New Hampshire Bankers Association. Little’s critics would certainly challenge that as an accurate estimate.


Exchange of the Week:

This one between conservative voter-fraud activist James O’Keefe and Department of Justice Investigator Richard Tracy.

This came after Tracy handed O’Keefe a criminal subpoena to appear regarding the allegations of fraud that O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas Action, had brought to the attention of state officials.

O’Keefe: "Do you intend to go after the lawbreakers or just the journalists?’’

Investigator Tracy: "I am just an investigator, sir, so wherever the investigation leads us that’s the way it will go.’’


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