STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

WALSH: GAMING COMMISSION "SHORTSIGHTED" FOR REJECTING DELAY REQUEST

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called the Gaming Commission "very shortsighted" for rejecting his request on Wednesday to delay the awarding of any more casino licenses until after the November election when voters will decide whether to keep expanding gaming legal in Massachusetts. "It was an opportunity for us to save the taxpayers a lot of money here and allow us the opportunity to have a real discussion around what the voters of Massachusetts want, but pretty much not to my surprise they took the action they took today," Walsh said. Walsh said he had not been fully briefed on what transpired at the Gaming Commission's hearing, but said he will review his optionss with his legal team and make a decision about what comes next for the city, including a possible lawsuit. Walsh has appealed for Boston to be considered a host community by the Gaming Commission, despite the two proposed casinos for eastern Massachusetts being located in either Everett or Revere. "I'm not anti-casino. As a legislator, I supported the law. As mayor of the city of Boston I'm in a very different position and my job is to make sure the people of East Boston, the people of Charlestown have the right to have a say in what's going to be in their backyard," Walsh said. Walsh said already the "whole casino experience" has cost Boston hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and when asked if the price tag would exceed $1 million, he said, "Absolutely." East Boston voters rejected a proposed casino, spurring developers to shift their plans over the city line into Revere. Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker issued a statement saying he agreed with Walsh and that he was disappointed with the commission's vote. "I continue to believe that the best way forward for gaming in Massachusetts is to start with a single casino and go from there," Baker said. - M. Murphy/SHNS

TARR CONFIDENT REDRAFTED ANIMAL ABUSE BILL WILL PASS

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr is hopeful that new animal cruelty prevention and punishment legislation will pass before the end of the formal sessions on July 31. The Gloucester Republican hailed a new redrafted version of his "PAWS Act" which would update the state's animal abuse laws. Tarr said the bill has "tremendous bicameral and bipartisan support." He told reporters on Wednesday, "Not only do I think this has traction, I think this will pass in some form." Under the new bill, released favorably by the Judiciary Committee on Monday, acts of animal cruelty would be punishable by up to seven years in prison, up from five years, with a fine increased from $2,500 to $5,000. The act also requires veterinarians to report suspected acts of abuse to law enforcement and creates legal protections for mandated reporters. A task force of experts will also have 18 months to issue a report with recommendations for further action. "It is essential that before we adjourn this legislative session, we get a bill to the governor's desk which addresses directly the issue of animal cruelty and animal abuse in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," Tarr said. The bill is the result of work stemming from the public outrage surrounding the case of "Puppy Doe," a two-year-old pit bull badly beaten and left in a Quincy park. "We know people who are willing to abuse animals are a threat to us all because they are a bully and bullies will bully anyone who's vulnerable whether it's a child or an elder or someone with mental difficulties. So protecting animals is part of protecting all of us," said Martha Smith-Blackmore, a veterinarian with the Animal Rescue League of Boston who conducted the necropsy on Puppy Doe.

>>> For video from Tarr's media availability, go to: http://www.statehousenews.com/video/14-07-02paws/ <<<