STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - LUNCH EDITION - FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

FIRST CASINO LICENSE GOES TO LONE APPLICANT IN WESTERN MASS.

After years of Beacon Hill debate over casinos and a lengthy regulatory process, Massachusetts has its first resort casino licensee. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Friday unanimously approved MGM Resorts International, which plans to build and operate a casino on a 14.5-acre parcel in downtown Springfield. MGM estimates the project will bring 3,000 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs to Springfield. The license award is contingent on resolution of a possible ballot question in November under an agreement that allows licensing and related fees to be postponed in case the state's highest court decides that the repeal question meets constitutional requirements for ballot eligibility and voters then decide to repeal the 2011 law. MGM's plans call for a 25-story, 250-room hotel with a spa, pool and roof-deck, 125,000 square feet of gaming space with 3,000 slot machines, 75 gaming tables, a poker room and high-limit VIP gambling area, 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a multi-level parking garage. - M. Norton/SHNS

McCORMICK TO DEMS: "KEEP THIS ONE FAIR AND CLEAN"

Five Democrats running for governor are gearing up to make their case this weekend to party insiders in a race for governor where none of the candidates have managed to make a strong connection with voters to date. Ahead of Saturday's Democratic Party convention in Worcester, independent candidate Jeff McCormick, who has languished in the polls and from a name recognition standpoint, is again trying to position himself as an alternative to the major party candidates. In a missive Friday, McCormick suggested the Democrats in the race are like-minded on policy matters and made reference to the Republican convention in March where party officials said candidate for governor Mark Fisher hadn't qualified for the ballot only to relent weeks later and agree to put him on in as he protested what he said were bungled voting procedures. The Democrats have a rule that requires candidates to earn 15 percent support among convention delegates to qualify for the Sept. 9 ballot, a reality that compels the candidates to train their attention on the desires of the party's most active members. With an opportunity to shape the primary field in addition to their own aspirations to simply stay in the race, there's a possibility of dealmaking and maneuvering among the candidates and the delegates. In a statement Friday, McCormick urged the Democrats to allow delegates to "vote with integrity" and "abandon the horse trading and back room deals that do nothing but stifle potential progress, hurt the citizens of the Commonwealth, and re-enforce (sic) the public's distrust of the political process," McCormick said. "If someone silences legitimate voices with underhanded moves, that indicates a lack of confidence in their own substance. Let's keep this one fair and clean." - M. Norton/SHNS

PATRICK PLANS SJC ANNOUNCEMENT

Facing a newly opened seat on the bench, Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday plans to make an announcement relative to the Supreme Judicial Court, according to an updated schedule from his office. The announcement, scheduled for 1:15 p.m. in Room 157, comes after the Governor's Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to confirm Ralph Gants as the chief justice of the state's highest court. Gants replaces Judge Roderick Ireland, who is retiring in July. The move offers Patrick another chance to make an appointment before he leaves the governor's office. Patrick told reporters on Wednesday, after the Governor's Council vote, that he already had a pool of candidates in mind. "I have talked about certain criteria, and certain candidates," Patrick said. "We've narrowed it down, not to get ahead of ourselves, but to be prepared, and like I said I hope to make the appointment soon." - G. Dumcius/SHNS

BLUE INVITES APPLICANTS FOR LOW-NUMBER LICENSE PLATES

Applications for this year's low-number license plate lottery are available, according to Registrar of Motor Vehicles Celia Blue. "The lowest available plate this year has great significance; it is the number 351 and that is the total number of cities and towns in Massachusetts," Blue said in a statement. "I am posing a challenge to our drivers. I would like to see residents from all 351 communities participate in this year's drawing." There are 159 other plates that are part of this year's lottery including: D88, 6777, and 7000. Registry officials estimate they receive about 6,000 applications annually. Entry forms must be mailed and postmarked no later than Aug. 11 and winners must be announced by Sept. 15, 2014. - M. Norton/SHNS