Sales-Tax Holiday, Probation Reform Await Patrick's Signature

By Sarah Birnbaum

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Aug. 1, 2011

A view of the State House in Boston. (Philocrites/Flickr)

BOSTON — It will be a slow week on Beacon Hill, with lawmakers away on their August recess. But there are a number of bills on Governor Deval Patrick’s desk awaiting his signature, including a sales-tax holiday measure and legislation aimed at overhauling the state probation department. 

Pending legislation would establish a sales-tax holiday during the weekend of August 13th and 14th. The state’s 6.25 percent sales tax would be waived on most items under 2,500 dollars. Previous sales-tax holidays have been popular with shoppers and retailers, but last week Patrick criticized the holiday as more of a political gimmick than a real economic stimulus.  Still, he says he’ll sign the bill, because it won’t cost the state that much money in lost revenue.

Also before the governor is a bill aimed at restricting nepotism and patronage in the state’s probation department, which is now under state and federal investigations. The measure would require all applicants for probation jobs to pass an entrance exam first and all job recommendation letters from politicians would be shielded until a candidate reaches the final stage of the hiring process. 

Patrick will probably sign the bill, but his approval isn’t certain. The legislation rejects one of his key proposals. He wanted to merge the probation department with parole and place both under the control of the executive branch. The bill on his desk would leave probation under the control of the judiciary.

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