Casino Debate Continues; Alimony Reform Signed

By Sarah Birnbaum

Sept. 26, 2011

BOSTON — This week in Massachusetts Politics, the casino gambling debate moves to the Senate, the state enacts alimony reform, and two former Bay State officials are due in court on political corruption charges.

Later today, the state Senate takes up its version of the casino gambling bill. It’s nearly identical to the one passed in the House this month, and would authorize three resort casinos and one slot parlor. The bill is expected to pass, but debate could stretch over several weeks. Opponents of the bill in the Senate could use parliamentary stall tactics and lawmakers must wade through more than 180 amendments, including one requiring casinos to hire only Massachusetts residents and one giving communities near casinos more money for law enforcement.

Also today, the Governor will sign a bill overhauling the state’s alimony laws. The measure ends alimony payments at retirement age in most cases, caps the amount one ex-spouse is ordered to pay the other based on the duration of the marriage, and alters alimony if an ex-spouse lives with a new partner. The legislation also allows some divorced couples to revisit their established alimony agreements.

And two former state officials are set to be arraigned on a slew of conspiracy and campaign finance charges. The former Massachusetts probation commissioner John O’Brien and the chief of staff to the ex-Treasurer Tim Cahill allegedly conspired to host a fundraiser for Cahill’s gubernatorial campaign in exchange for securing O’Brien’s wife a job at the state lottery. The two men are due in Suffolk superior court this morning.

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