The 2011 State Legislature Session Endgame

By Sarah Birnbaum

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Nov. 17, 2011


BOSTON — Beacon Hill hummed like a beehive right up to midnight Nov. 16 as lawmakers rushed to get bills to the governor’s desk before a two-month break.
 
- After years of debate and false starts, a casino gambling bill now sits on Governor Deval Patrick’s desk. It authorizes three resort casinos and one slot parlor. A similar bill died last session when the governor and Legislature couldn’t agree on a major component of the bill. 
 
The casino deal hit a minor speed bump this time around, when Patrick said he was concerned about the amount of gambling revenues slated for the horse racing industry. In response, legislative leaders met with Patrick late Tuesday night and reduced the subsidy. 
 
Administration officials told WGBH News that Patrick plans to sign the casino bill early next week.
 
- New protections for transgendered people were enacted this week after languishing in the Legislature for 6 years. The bill bans discrimination against transgendered people in the areas of housing, employment, education and credit. A group of House Republicans tried to derail the measure by flooding the floor with amendments but Democratic leadership pushed it through. The governor is expected to sign the bill, and Massachusetts will become the 16thstate to extend civil rights protections to transgendered people.
 
- Another late bill could make it a little easier to buy alcohol in Massachusetts. It will gradually increase the number of supermarkets and convenience stores that are allowed to sell beer and wine. Currently, grocery store chains are only allowed to sell alcohol at two of their in-state locations. But the bill would increase that number to five next year, then to seven in 2016 and then finally to nine by 2020. The governor has not yet weighed in on this bill.



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