Humason hopes for another busy year

WESTFIELD – State Rep. Donald Humason (R-Westfield) said last week was busy and productive for the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
One of the biggest bills to pass allows casino gambling to come to the Commonwealth. The bill passed the House and Senate earlier this fall and was given the go-ahead by Gov. Deval Patrick last week.
“The governor signed the bill last Wednesday,” said Humason.  “Next up is appointing the gaming commission.”
Humason said the five-person commission would create the rules for casino gambling. The commission will have five members, and although Humason said western Massachusetts is ahead of the curve in casino operations, there is no guarantee that any of the commissioners will be from the area.
“The members have to have the expertise in the area of gaming,” said Humason. “It is designed to be a professional board that’s going to create the rules for gaming in Massachusetts.”
The commission will also select the site of the resort-style casino. Humason said the slots casino will be at Suffolk Downs, since it will be an easy transition.
“Everyone seems to agree Western Massachusetts is the place to be – we’ve got our act together,” he said. “Springfield, Palmer and Holyoke all have sites and established relationships with gaming developers.”
Humason said the slots parlor would likely come to fruition in the next year or two, with a casino opening in the next four years.
Humason supported the bill and said he is happy the House can move on to other business.
“It’s been the thing sucking up all the oxygen in the room, session after session,” said Humason. “Once I made the decision to support it, I wanted to get it done so we can go on to other things.”
Humason also supported Marissa’s Law, a bill that the House approved last week in support of victims of crimes by repeat offenders.
“We passed it to the conference committee and they will take it up in the next session,” said Humason.
Humason said he was in favor of it because “my constituents and I are sick of hearing the term ‘repeat offender’.”
The law imposes stricter guidelines for parole for repeat offenders. The House suggests the criminal  must have served more than two-thirds of the?sentence and two-thirds of the parole board must approve parole.
Humason also supported a human trafficking law but did not support a law designating crimes against transgendered individuals as special crimes.
Humason said there were several reasons he did not support the legislation last Wednesday. One, he said, is because the speaker placed a? 60-minute maximum on debate, which he said was not enough time. Humason also said he believes there is no need for the law.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said. “It’s already against the law to discriminate against people. It’s against the law to kill somebody, it’s already bad to commit a crime. It’s a special crime if you kill a child or kill or a senior, and I agree with that, but what’s wrong with saying just don’t kill people?”
“Pretty soon, if something happens to you and you don’t fall into a special category, then oh well.”
Looking ahead, Humason said the economy needs to be the focus of the next session, which begins in January.
“There needs to be a renewed focus on the economy in Massachusetts,” Humasons said.
Humason said jobs and unemployment are key items the House and Senate must discuss and change, if necessary. He also said Massachusetts laws regarding unemployment are prohibitive to business, especially businesses looking to come to the state.
“You can work for 15 weeks in Massachusetts and be eligible for 30 weeks of unemployment,” said Humason, adding that most states require residents to work 19 weeks in order to be eligible for 26 weeks of unemployment.
Humason said he would be doing his homework in the next month, preparing for the first session of 2012, which he hopes will be as productive as the last session.
“We have a lot to do in a short time because it’s an election year and the session ends in July instead of November,” he said.

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