2016 Massachusetts Ballot Questions: What You Need to Know
October 19, 2016
October 19, 2016
Given the nonstop news made by Donald Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton, it’s hard to find time to focus on the down-ballot items voters will face in the upcoming November 8th election. In Massachusetts, we have a number of ballot questions that will have significant policy implications across the state. Here’s a quick primer to prepare you for Election Day:
Question 1: Additional Slot Parlor License
Since Massachusetts authorized casino gambling with the Gaming Act of 2011, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been in the incremental process of awarding three regional licenses and one slot parlor license to interested parties throughout the state. In 2014, Everett and the then-proposed Wynn casino won the casino license over its neighboring city, Revere. This left the Revere bidder, Mohegan Sun, hungry to stay in the game.
Question 1 would authorize the Commission to award an additional slot parlor in Massachusetts—one beyond what the 2014 law currently authorizes. However, this week, the city of Revere overwhelmingly rejected the proposal for a slot parlor in a citywide election—65 percent to 35 percent.
Although this city vote does not have intrinsic implications on the ballot question, it certainly isn’t positive for the ‘Yes’ campaign.
Question 2: Expanding the Charter Cap
One of the most hotly contested items on the ballot is Question 2, which would expand the charter cap, allowing 12 additional charter schools per year within the Commonwealth. Legislation to expand the charter cap was filed and failed in the last two legislative sessions with House and Senate members unable to come to an agreement on this divisive issue. And now, beyond the traditional fight between the Massachusetts Teachers Association and pro-charter organizations, politicos on all levels of government are taking sides on this issue. Most recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Marty Walsh came out in opposition of Question 2 whereas Congressman Stephen Lynch, who represents a large section of the Boston electorate, has been a vocal supporter.
In a MassINC WBUR poll just released this week, it appears that the notable political opposition to Question 2 is making a difference with voters: 52 percent of voters are opposed with 41 percent supporting the measure.
For more on charters, check WGBH’s session on Question 2.
Question 3: Cage-Free Eggs
There has been little campaigning around Question 3, which would ban the sale of meat or eggs from confined animals in Massachusetts and ban the confinement of certain animals at Massachusetts farms. Specifically, the question is designed to mandate the sale of cage free-eggs.
To date, the opposition campaign hasn’t really presented an argument against the measure, and polling shows the question passing with an easy victory.
Question 4: Legalization of Marijuana
Question 4 is the third ballot question to change the state regulations and legality around marijuana in less than ten years. In 2008, Massachusetts voters decriminalized the possession of under an ounce of marijuana and in 2012, they elected to allow medicinal marijuana. Both questions were supported by more than 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s voters.
Political heavyweights have lined up in opposition to Question 4, including Governor Charlie Baker, Speaker Robert DeLeo, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. In contrast, we have seen a small number of politicians in favor of legalization, but the most important population is the voters themselves, who are currently in support of passage by 55 percent to 40 percent opposed.
As the adage says, the only poll that matters is the one that happens on Election Day. Politicos will be making their case right up until polls close on November 8. Which way do you think voters will vote? Let us know on Twitter at @solomonmccown.