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Legislative Leaders Say They Have Votes to Override Casino Veto (posted July 3, 2004)

House Speaker William Murphy and Senate President Joseph Montalbano say they have the votes to override Governor Don Carcieri's veto of a bill placing a casino referendum on the November ballot. Appearing on the WPRI-TV show Newsmakers with Jack White, Murphy said he took "personal offense" at Carcieri's comment that the General Assembly was bowing to an out-of-state corporation, Harrah's, which is financing the proposed casino.

Montalbano also defended the casino vote. "This was no last-minute deal. We had hearings," he explained. Murphy said he anticipated a special session to override the Governor's veto of this bill, along with the budget and tax credits for a new downtown hotel, would take place in about two weeks. The Senate President said he was "disappointed" with Carcieri's veto of the budget, the second year in a row he has done that. The General Assembly is "moving the state forward," Montalbano pointed out.

When asked if either one of them had been interviewed by investigators probing ethics violations at the General Assembly, Murphy and Montalbano each said he had not been interviewed. However, Montalbano noted that several Senators plus Senate staff members had been interviewed.

Murphy said it was a "defining moment" when 11 House Democrats "dropped ranks and went over to the Republicans" to vote against the budget. Despite the dissidents, Murphy said "I feel secure. I am running for Speaker again."

Both legislative leaders defended their decision to repeal a Providence residency rule requiring police officers and fire-fighters to live within the capital city, a provision that had been enacted by Providence voters in 1993. Murphy said "the Providence delegation was supporting this legislation" on grounds that undercover officers would be endangered if they had to live within the city. Montalbano explained that "I may have misread what members of the Providence delegation wanted." He said his normal policy was to "look to the elected officials of the city" when deciding how to handle local issues.

Responding to complaints over a Senate committee vote not to approve legislation desired by domestic violence advocates, Montalbano promised "it will be the first order of business in January. Hopefully, they will negotiate the language with those affected."