Lawmakers Consider Sales Tax Holiday, Alimony Reform

By Sarah Birnbaum

Jul. 25, 2011

BOSTON — This week on Beacon Hill, lawmakers take up a range of issues including a sales tax holiday, changes to alimony laws and post-conviction DNA testing.  

On Monday, lawmakers will hold a public hearing on a bill to establish a sales tax holiday the weekend of August 13th and 14th. The 6.25% sales tax would be waived on all purchases under $2,500. Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker of the House Robert Deleo all support the measure, especially since the state's tax revenues are up about 2 billion dollars over the last fiscal year. Supporters say a sales tax holiday would be good for shoppers and a major boost for retailers during the summer, when consumers tend not to buy big-ticket items. However, some economists say shoppers just put off purchases they would make anyway to that weekend, so the sales tax holiday ends up making little difference overall.

And on Thursday, the state Senate plans to take up a sweeping overhaul of the state’s alimony laws. The proposal would end alimony payments at retirement age in most cases, cap the amount one ex-spouse is ordered to pay the other based on the duration of the marriage, and alter alimony if an ex-spouse lives with a new partner. The bill would also allow some divorced couples to revisit their established alimony agreements. The changes have already passed the House, and have broad support in the Senate.

Senators also plan to vote on a bill that would give prisoners the right to access DNA evidence not tested at the time of their trials.

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