STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - MORNING EDITION - TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

ROSENBERG: ONLINE GAMING SEEMS UNAVOIDABLE

Given the borderless freedom of the Internet, online gaming is almost inevitable, according to Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg. "I personally don't see how you avoid it," Rosenberg told a panel assembled by the Gaming Commission Tuesday. A chief architect of the 2011 law that legalized casinos and the presumed successor of the Senate presidency next year, Rosenberg told reporters he would follow the recommendations of the commission. A central argument for legalizing casinos in Massachusetts was the draw the Connecticut casinos had on Massachusetts gamblers. On the Internet there are no long car trips standing between potential gamblers and online games, though it is not legal to play across state lines. "You can't control the Internet. When people turn on their computer they go where they want to go," Rosenberg told reporters. "We're just at the early stages of trying to understand how this actually works, and given that you can organize businesses inside the Commonwealth, within the country, and internationally and set them up online - so we need to figure out how that all works." New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have legalized online gaming, and legislation is under consideration in nine states, including Massachusetts, and Congress, according to GamblingCompliance, a regulatory news source.


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At a forum Tuesday, Bally Technologies Senior Director of Interactive Jeffrey Allen demonstrated an online Golden Nugget casino that is available only for residents of New Jersey, with a "stringent" verification that requires Social Security numbers, mobile phone numbers and home addresses. - A. Metzger/SHNS

HEALTH CARE BALLOT QUESTIONS SET FOR MARCH 24 HEARING

Lawmakers have scheduled a public hearing on a pair of major health care proposals that could be settled on the November ballot by Massachusetts voters. The Health Care Financing Committee plans a March 24 hearing at the State House on initiative petitions governing patient safety and nurse staffing (H 3843) and limiting "excessive" hospital operating margins and executive compensation (H 3844). The Massachusetts Nurses Association has helped round up tens of thousands of signatures to advance the initiative petitions deep into the process and lawmakers must decide this spring whether to address the proposals themselves or risk the possibility that voters will enact the laws without their input. The proposals will be aired as state officials implement a law aimed at limiting the growth in health care costs and amid continuing consolidation in the health care industry, which is one of the state's biggest employment sectors. The committee also plans to hear two other patient safety bills (H 1008 and S 557) during the same hearing, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. in Gardner Auditorium. - M. Norton/SHNS

ROSENBERG PLANS TO REVIEW ON SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES BILL

A bill that would allow retail alcohol sales on Sundays beginning at 10 a.m., rather than noon, has not yet undergone review in the Senate after only recently passing the House. "It just got there and we haven't started to review it yet," said Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg about the bill (H 228), which is sitting in the Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules that Rosenberg chairs. Proponents of the bill said it would keep more business in Massachusetts as people do Sunday morning errands, including shopping for tailgating at Gillette Stadium. Asked about his "gut feelings" on the proposal, Rosenberg said, "I never make law based on gut feelings. I do my homework." The House did not debate the bill and passed it on a voice vote. - A. Metzger/SHNS

EDUCATION SECRETARY TO VISIT MASS. SCHOOLS

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled to visit Massachusetts Tuesday and Wednesday. State Secretary of Education Matthew Malone plans to join Duncan at 9 am. Wednesday for a visit to Worcester Technical High School. According to a Malone aide, Duncan plans a two-day tour of Massachusetts schools. After a town hall-style discussion on career and technical education with educators, community college officials and business leaders at Worcester Tech, Duncan plans to visit schools in Reading and Boston on Wednesday afternoon. He plans to visit a school in Roxbury Tuesday afternoon. - M. Norton/SHNS