Were I doing this on my old TV show, I'd begin by saying "More Politically Alert has learned exclusively of the inside story of how the House Ways and Means committee bucked Governor Maggie Hassan and today reconsidered its action to retain two gambling bills and ended up killing them."
Since the show exists no more, I guess I'll have to say that this lowly blog has learned (from unimpeachable sources) that Hassan staffers had personally called Ways and Means Chair Susan Almy and her Vice Chair Lovejoy to ask that the bills not be killed.
I know. I know.
It didn't make sense to me either. After all, the two House gambling bills are not the ones Hassan wants, but this blog has learned that the governor is so shaken about lack of support for her gambling scheme in the Senate that she thought killing any bills in the House would send a bad message.
Here's how I found out about this inside power play.
As you probably know, one of the House gambling bills in mine; yes that would be Your Honorable (Ted Gatsas) plan for expanded gambling. I was informed this morning that Ways and Means had decided to retain the bill. The other bill, Ed Gionet's slot bill for Indian Head was also retained.
However, just a half hour into the session this morning, as I was sitting listening to a debate, a messenger delivered me a note from Chairman Almy saying that her committee was going to reconsider action on my bill at noon, in case I wanted to sit in on it.
I really didn't want to; I never expected the bill to pass or even to be retained and frankly, I was surprised by the positive (or at least less than negative) vote yesterday.
Later in the afternoon, at the soiree to honor the new New Hampshire ACLU lobbyist, I learned that it was Almy herself who moved reconsideration which led to a killing of both bills at the noon hour. But the real scoop is why Almy did it. She was the swing vote yesterday for retaining the bills, and she did it only after being pressured by the Governor's people. My sources tell me that Almy overnight became upset with herself for caving to pressure.
Talk about a midnight reversion, if not a midnight conversion!
A long time gambling opponent, she clearly wants both bills killed, and she succeeded on reconsideration.
The bills will come to the House floor in a couple weeks (we're so far backed up, it won't likely be next week) where they most likely be killed.
That was expected all along, but we have learned a great deal with this 36 hour standoff between Almy and the Governor. Even as I listened to Jack Heath opine on WGIR this morning that momentum was in favor of gambling with the governor behind it, I was yelling at my radio, "No way! It has less chance than ever."
What Heath and Hassan don't get apparently is what Jeanne Shaheen learned the hard way long ago. Most Democrats are so viscerally opposed to expanded gambling that they won't change no matter how hard Hassan pushes; they wouldn't even change if Speaker Norelli were to come out in favor (and I don't see that happening; unlike Gene Chandler, she likes to stay in synch with her caucus).
You head it here first; even as the loathsome Monitor reporter Ben Leubsdorf was trying to gin up more controversy with tweets which only shame him even more, the real story emerges here and no place else.
You almost wonder why anyone would tell me these things...could it be that they want word to get out that the Governor is flailing away trying to push her weight around when there's really none to push when it comes to gambling?
I bet that's it.
Oh yes, my sources say Gionet was not happy with the Ways and Means action.
I was not particularly unhappy. As I've said all along, I only offered a gambling plan because if we're going to do it, the state should get more than a 30 percent share with hundreds of millions going to out of staters (like Millennium). Clearly, no matter how much pressure the governor wields, no gambling plan will pass.
House Democrats made clear today that they'd much rather raise (nearly double) the gasoline tax than consider gambling anything other than DOA, dead on arrival.