This Week in State Politics: Gambling, Courts and Utilities

By Sarah Birnbaum

Mar. 19, 2012

BOSTON — This week in Massachusetts politics, judges and lawyers make the case for more state funding for the trial courts, utilities officials weigh the proposed NStar-Northeast merger and the final members of Massachusetts Gambling Commission are expected to be announced.
Later on Monday, Judge Roderick Ireland of the Supreme Judicial Court will be on Beacon Hill to ask lawmakers for more money for the Trial Court. Judges and court administrators have been warning since last fall that budget cuts have dealt a crippling blow to the effectiveness of the court system in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Bar Association has taken the unusual step of conducting a statewide billboard and media campaign to bring public attention to the issue.

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities hears oral arguments on NStar and Northeast Utilities' proposed $4.7 billion merger. The hearing comes a week after Connecticut’s attorney general signed off on the deal, removing another major hurdle. The companies hope to finalize the merger by mid-April.
Wednesday is also the deadline for Gov. Deval Patrick, Treasurer Steve Grossman and Attorney General Martha Coakley to name the final two members of the Massachusetts gambling commission. The commission will decide who gets to open casinos in Massachusetts and will have broad authority to regulate the industry. 
And on Thursday, the state office of Labor and Workfore Development releases February’s job numbers. Last week, the Patrick administration announced that the state added only 12,000 jobs last year — 30,000 fewer jobs than initially reported. Senate Republicans are calling on the state auditor to audit the methodology for counting the state’s employment figures.

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