State House, Senate Kick Off Session

By Sarah Birnbaum

Jan. 6, 2010

The new legislative session started off on a merry note. (AP)

BOSTON — The governor is awaiting the formal start of his second term with his inauguration Thursday afternoon — but for Massachusetts' legislators, the year has already begun.

Members of the House and Senate — including 46 freshman — convened the new legislative session on Thursday. They face a slew of problems over the next two years, including a budget defecit of $1.5 billion, skyrocketing health care costs and an ongoing scandal at the state probation department. 

Still, things began on a merry note. Lawmakers and their family members packed into the halls of the State House, with plenty of backslapping, joking, and schmoozing as the ceremonies got underway.

After the Governor administered the oath of office, House Speaker Robert Deleo and Senate President Therese Murray were easily reelected to their leadership posts.

Taking the podium, Murray welcomed her colleagues and said she was looking forward to a productive term.

"I have great hopes for this new session.  We will continue our work to make health care more affordable.  We will continue our work to help small businesses grow and create jobs,” Murray said.

In the House, Speaker Deleo said that casinos remain one of his top priorities.

“I don’t have to remind this chamber that our state still clamors for jobs and local aid.  The most immediate source of these as well as long-term revenue remains gaming,” Deleo said.

The casino issue blew up last July when the Governor and Speaker couldn’t compromise on the details of a bill.  Deleo said he will work closely with Governor Patrick and Senate President Murray to legalize gambling this session, but it could be a tough sell.  Patrick and Murray seem hesitant to revive the casino debate.

But one place where the Speaker and Senate President agree?  They both said there will be no new taxes. 

Inauguration ceremonies continue Thursday with the swearing-in of Governor Patrick.

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