Analyzing the House vote on gambling

The House passes casino bill 123 to 32

DeLeo tightens grip

House Speaker Robert DeLeo flipped 64 former no votes into the yes column during last year’s gambling vote; they included several members of DeLeo’s leadership team, including Charles Murphy, Ronald Mariano, Brian Dempsey, Joseph Wagner, Paul Donato, Ellen Story, and current Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad.

After a January leadership shakeup that rewarded members of his circle who backed him during last year’s casino battle, DeLeo held on to the votes he switched last year, and picked up a few for good measure. David Torrisi, who had voted no under DiMasi and under DeLeo last year, switched to the speaker’s team. And Sean Curran and Cleon Turner, who had voted for casinos under DiMasi, then opposed them last year, came back into the pro-casino camp.

Nearly all the House’s Democratic freshmen voted with the speaker. Fifteen backed DeLeo’s casino bill, including four — Paul Mark, Paul Schmid, Carlos Henriquez, and Gailanne Cariddi — who replaced solidly anti-casino lawmakers. Just two freshman Democrats — Denise Garlick of Needham and Denise Andrews of Orange — bucked DeLeo. (In so doing, they joined expanded gambling opponent Denise Provost of Somerville to make the Denise caucus of the House solidly anti-casino.) There was a much greater diversity of opinion among the Republican House freshmen, with fifteen voting in favor of the casino bill, and six voting against it.

10 Boston reps say yes to casinos, no to voter referendum

It’s not often that an elected official supports a measure that effectively strips their constituents of a say on an important issue. But that’s what 10 Boston lawmakers did. The casino bill gives local communities the right to hold a referendum on casino proposed for within their boundaries. But the bill provides an exemption for communities with populations of more than 125,000, where only voters in the ward where the casino would be located get to weigh in. Although a gambling facility at Suffolk Downs in East Boston — a prime target of casino developers — would surely place an increased demand on city services, 10 Boston representatives supported the bill, even though it will give their constituents no say in approving such a siting: Nick Collins of South Boston, Ed Coppinger of West Roxbury, Linda Forry of Dorchester, Carlos Henriquez of Dorchester, Russell Holmes of Mattapan, Kevin Honan of Allston, Aaron Michlewitz of the North End, Michael Moran of Brighton, Gene O’Flaherty of Chelsea (who also represents Charlestown), and Martin Walsh of Dorchester.  East Boston’s Carlo Basile, whose constituents would get to vote on a referendum for gambling at Suffolk Downs, also supported the bill.

6 Boston reps vote no to casinos

Six Boston reps voted no on the casino bill: Gloria Fox of Roxbury, Liz Malia of Jamaica Plain, Byron Rushing of the South End, Jeff Sanchez of Jamaica Plain, Angelo Scaccia of Hyde Park, and Marty Walz of the Back Bay.

Michlewitz bucks his old boss

Rep. Aaron Michlewitz of Boston’s North End obviously didn’t believe in his old boss’s anti-gambling position. Former House Speaker Sal DiMasi held the line against gambling when he ruled Beacon Hill. But now that DiMasi has been sentenced to eight years in jail, Michlewitz, his former aide, voted the other way.

Regional differences

Lawmakers representing Cape Cod and the islands, one of the state’s major tourist destinations, split on gambling 4-3. The four yes votes came from Democrats Demetrius Altsalis and Cleon Turner and Republicans David Vieira and Susan Gifford. The three no votes came from Democrats Timothy Madden of Nantucket and Sarah Peake of Provincetown and Republican Randy Hunt of Sandwich.

In the South Coast area, five area legislators signed a letter to DeLeo, Gov. Deval Patrick, and Senate President Therese Murray saying any preferential treatment for tribes such as the Wampanoags could adversely affect the region’s ability to attract a casino. But even though the bill contains a one-year window for tribes to get approval for land trusts and begin the process, the lawmakers voted yes anyway. The five – Antonio Cabral and Robert Koczera of New Bedford; Kevin Aguiar of Fall River; Christopher Markey of Dartmouth; and Paul Schmid of Westport – were apparently assuaged by the argument that there’s little chance of approval given the short time frame and court decisions that ban the government from saying yes to land trusts not already approved.

Out west, Todd Smola, the Republican who represents Palmer, voted no, just as he did on the previous two casino votes, even though Palmer has been pegged as the most promising site for a casino to battle the Connecticut gambling houses. Democrat Brian Ashe of Longmeadow, who represents several towns abutting Palmer and the Connecticut border, also voted no, while three Democrats representing nearby towns voted yes.

Etc.

The “yeas” and “nays” had a bipartisan breakdown. About 26 percent of Democrats voted no while 25 percent, or eight, of the Republicans said no.

Three Democrats did not vote. They were Harold Naughton Jr. of Clinton, Jerald Parisella of Beverly, and James Vallee of Franklin.

(CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow, Michael Jonas, Jack Suillivan, and Bruce Mohl contributed to this story.)

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