At Solomon McCown & Company, we monitor the policies and initiatives that will affect Massachusetts residents, particularly those that will be put in front of voters.

Right now, we are paying close attention to the eight initiatives that cleared the 64,750 petition signature hurdle at the end of the 2017. These initiatives cover everything from health care to income equality and taxes, and are now in front of the legislature for consideration before the next round of signature gathering in order to qualify for the ballot.

Here are the four questions we are keeping an eye on:

  1. Law Relative to Patient Safety and Hospital Transparency (A)

This proposal, backed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA), would mandate strict nurse to patient ratios at every hospital across Massachusetts. The MNA argues that these ratios would improve patient safety as nurses are currently burdened with too many patients at once. Opponents of this proposal, including the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Organization of Nurse Leaders and the American Nurses Association, argue that this proposal will override the judgement of local nurses and doctors with uniform state standards and be too costly to hospitals.

  1. Law Raising the Minimum Wage

This proposed ballot question would raise the minimum wage in Massachusetts to $12.00 on January 1, 2019, and then by $1-per-hour increments per year until the rate reaches $15 an hour in 2022. Raise Up Massachusetts, the major proponents of the legislation, say the increase would allow residents to make enough money to meet basic needs.  Opponents include business groups like the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, who say it will cripple the economy without solving the real income issues that need to be addressed.

  1. Massachusetts Income Tax for Education and Transportation Initiative or “Millionaire Tax

Voters will decide whether or not to implement a proposed amendment that seeks to place a 4 percent surtax on individuals with annual incomes above $1 million. The current income tax rate is 5.1 percent. Supporters say the amendment would raise an extra $1.9 billion each year that could be spent on public education and transportation.

  1. Law Relative to Reducing the Burden of Sales and Use Taxes and Requiring a Sales Tax Free Weekend

This initiative would reduce the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent, and mandate a two-day sales tax-free weekend every August. Backed by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, they argue that the current sales tax rate is an “imposed anchor around the neck of local stores,” while retailers are already at a disadvantage competing with sales-tax-free New Hampshire and online retailers.

We will be monitoring which questions receive enough signatures to make the 2018 ballot for your vote –stay tuned for more!