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High-Fives and Dope Slaps: Mass. gets casinos...but not happy hour?!

Posted by Alex Pearlman  November 22, 2011 05:47 PM

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i'm just a bill.jpgBy Jeff Fish

Thanksgiving is this Thursday, which for most of us means a nice little long weekend before going back to the grind. For politicians on Beacon Hill, however, winter vacation has started, so until the new year, they get to take break from yelling at each other the few hours a week they’re actually there. During their last week in session, they were busy little bees, but as you’ll see below, I’m giving them mixed reviews.

Unrelated to our fine lawmakers, I also talk about that guy who drives a truck and the oh-so-holiest of institutions that never puts its own interests first.

High-Five: Scott Brown introduces STOCK Act to the Senate. Here’s my first chance to talk about the freshman senator. Unlike many of my left-leaning friends, I don’t hate him; rather, I think he’s a decent, moderate voice for the Republican Party. Anyway, The STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act comes in the wake of a 60 Minutes report revealing that members of Congress have traded stocks with knowledge they obtained by working on Capitol Hill -- obviously a gross abuse of power, much like any form of insider trading.

Critics say that by championing this bill, Brown is being hypocritical because he has stock in companies like Bank of America and Exxon-Mobil and has voted for measures in the Senate that have helped those companies. However, that doesn’t really have to do with the insider trading that this bill aims to tackle; plus, I think we’d be hard-pressed to find a member of Congress that hasn’t done that at some point. But a word of caution to Brown: Your opponent, Elizabeth Warren, is well known for taking on Wall Street, so something like this could come back to bite you.

Dope Slap: Happy hour will not return to Mass. OK, where do I even begin with this one? First of all, the government doesn’t have the right to tell a private business how much they’re allowed to charge for a product, so on a fundamental level, this law is wrong. It’s another one of Massachusetts’ crazy blue laws that restricts where and when liquor can be sold and limits how late bars can be open. Blue laws are one of the many things that make the Bay State so strange; Massachusetts is one of the most consistently blue states in the country, yet its Puritanical roots still have a stranglehold on the way laws are made.

The return of happy hour was an amendment on the casino bill that passed last week (see below), and it was shelved until next year to make the bill easier to pass. But reinstating happy hour would give bars a better chance at competing with casinos, which will be able to offer free drinks. Lawmakers against the amendment argue that not having happy hour cuts back on drunken driving deaths. But you know what else could cut back on drunken driving deaths? Not making it so easy to get away with an OUI in this state.

High-Five: The casino bill actually got passed! No really, it did…. So, there’s not much to say since I already talked about this last week, but I’m just astounded that this bill actually passed. For years, there has been so much controversy surrounding the not-so-complicated topic, but I guess that’s politics for you. And Massachusetts politics is a special brand of dysfunctional.

Anyway, the bill will license up to three resort-style casinos and one slot machine parlor. Gov. Deval Patrick will likely sign the bill into law by Thanksgiving, and then the fun will begin: Casino developers will start angling for licenses, while opponents will begin building up resistances in cities and towns. Casinos have just gotten over a major hurdle -- the major hurdle, really -- but that won’t stop busybodies from trying their darnedest to shut them down, while the state’s many unemployed construction workers continue to wait for new jobs.

Dope Slap: Missing names from Church sex abuse list. Cardinal Sean O’Malley recently released a list of 159 clerics accused of child molestation, but 70 names that should appear on the list don’t, according a Globe article. The names didn’t appear on the list because those clerics were not originally from the Boston Archdiocese and, therefore, were not under its supervision.

Apparently, O’Malley got some backlash for publishing the list in the first place, which is why he left off those 70 names, but I don’t care what sort of backlash you get from the rest of the Church. So what, O’Malley -- not your diocese, not your problem? Publishing all of the names is clearly the moral thing to do because they are the names of monsters who hurt children. Shouldn’t those children’s interests come before the Church’s public relations?

High-Five: Transgender civil rights bill passed. Speaking of something the Church doesn’t like, this one is an obvious high-five since young people generally support social progress more than older generations. The Constitution says that “all men are created equal,” so this bill just furthers the vision set out by our Founding Fathers.

The passage of this bill will make it illegal to discriminate against transgender people in housing, employment, and credit, and it only took six years to pass. Kudos, Massachusetts; progress is slow, I guess, but at least it’s here now.

‘High-Fives and Dope Slaps’ is TNGG Boston’s weekly Tuesday politics column, written by Jeff Fish.

Photo by detritus.

About Jeff -- I'm a senior at Suffolk University, majoring in journalism and political science. I'm the editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, The Suffolk Journal, and I did a six-month co-op at The Boston Globe. I love politics, reading, movies, TV, and anything pop culture. My mind is a font of useless knowledge.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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