Why is the Home Rule Petition Urgently Needed?

“new state house” by happy via is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

There are two bills currently in the Massachusetts legislature that if passed would have significant negative impact on the town of Great Barrington and its residents. Senate bill 101 and House bill 13 would allow the Mass Gaming Commission (successor to the Racing Commission) to allocate millions of dollars of public money from the Race Horse Development Fund to rebuild the GB Fairgrounds (GBF) racetrack. S101 would additionally allow a long abandoned and expired license issued more than 20 years ago to be the basis for permission for a 10-year – or more – commercial racing license at GBF today. These are radical bills, establishing a statewide precedent, stripping communities of usual and customary means of oversight, exclusively in favor of industry.

The legislation would eliminate any ability for citizens or town officials to vote on whether commercial horse racing is a good fit for present day Great Barrington.

For more than 50 years, Great Barrington citizens have not been given the opportunity to vote on commercial horse racing, other than a vote on simulcasting which they banned repeatedly between 1999-2001.

The proposed legislation – S101 and H13 – remove both of those rights. Other potential legislation might do the same or more.

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