House and Senate Democrats are retreating from their $4 billion economic development bill but have reached agreements on bills to legalize betting on pro and college sports and improve access to mental health care, Sen. Michael Rodrigues said.
The economic development bill had been touted for weeks for its potential to give local projects and the economy a jolt.
“It’s going to remain in conference until we take a deeper dive and have more time to really analyze the effects of the 62F matter that we just learned about earlier this week,” Rodrigues said, referring to the 1986 law that may trigger $3 billion in tax relief.
“It’s a lot of money,” he added. “We’ve been very, very careful over the last two years, three years, since the pandemic of being fiscally responsible and the fiscally responsible thing to do is hit pause right now on all of this spending.”
The decision means the one-time rebates of $250 to eligible individual taxpayers and $500 to married taxpayers who filed jointly, which lawmakers have promoted in recent weeks, will not be issued.
House and Senate negotiators did reach a compromise on sports betting in Massachusetts.
The sports betting bill (H 5164) will legalize wagering on professional and some collegiate contests, though betting on Massachusetts colleges and universities will not be allowed unless they are playing in a tournament like March Madness, Rodrigues, the lead Senate conferee, said.
“The Senate bill came out with no college at all. The House had full college and we compromised on just no in-state college,” he said. “And that’s how you get things done, is reach compromise.”
Mariano told reporters as the sun was rising Monday that Massachusetts bettors will “still be allowed to bet on just about everything else.”
“The fact that she was concerned about the comments by a few college presidents, we thought that maybe taking that out would speed us along and get us to a deal,” the speaker said, referring to Senate President Karen Spilka sharing the concerns of the presidents of every Massachusetts college or university with Division I athletics, who were opposed to allowing betting on their contests.
Boston Based DraftKings welcomed the agreement.
“We are thrilled that our home state has acted to protect consumers, create jobs and grow revenue in the Commonwealth. We particularly want to thank Speaker Mariano, Senate President Spilka, Chairs Michlewitz and Rodrigues, and the members of the conference committee for their leadership,” said DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. “We are hopeful that the legislature will move to quickly pass this bill and Governor Baker will sign it into law.”
The House and Senate remain in session to vote on the agreements struck overnight.
– Michael P. Norton/SHNS
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