Sports betting is not on Senate Speaker Karen Spilka’s priority list for the fall legislation rush, and a string of high-profile MBTA incidents did not seem to move the needle by the Leader of the Senate on the financing of transport.
In an interview Thursday where she presented the Senate’s fall program, Spilka said she was “not sure there is a need for more money” to resolve the transportation issues and has indicated that the possibility of the Senate taking action to allow sports betting will depend on the “bandwidth” available. . “
Spilka told the State House News Service that there were five topics the Senate hopes to address in the next six weeks before official legislative work comes to a halt again, this time until the New Year: spending the state government cache of funding for the American Rescue Plan Act, a budget to close the books on fiscal 2021, electoral reforms, mental and behavioral health parity, and political constituency redistribution .
When asked if sports betting legislation would appear this fall, Spilka said the Senate Ways and Means Committee “is reviewing” it.
“We have to redistribute, we have to close the books and make an extra budget, we have to make a more permanent VOTE act, our temporary (arrangements) end in December,” she said. “Some of it will depend on the bandwidth and its condition.”
The House approved the legalization of sports betting in July, the second time that representatives have taken such a vote, but the Senate has let years pass the opportunities to approve or categorically reject the idea, though almost all other New England states have implemented their own system.
On the transport front, the Ashland Democrat said she saw no urgent need for action. Supporters of MBTA’s improvements have used recent events to push for action, noting that the past three months have been marked by a Red Line derailment, an escalator malfunction that left people injured at the station of Back Bay, a fatal fall from a closed MBTA stairwell and a Green Line Accident.
Spilka highlighted the multi-year transportation loan bill signed in January by Governor Charlie Baker, which will allocate billions of dollars to T modernization and expansion projects. She said she “can understand the public’s feeling that more needs to be done “. but argued that the focus should be on getting bond dollars already approved.