And then there were three.
Massachusetts voters looked like they were going to have a lot to choose on this November. Eight ballot questions appeared to be headed toward certification last winter. Seven months later, the field has been drastically cut down.
Just one of the two nurse staffing initiatives were certified by Attorney General Maura Healey. The millionaire’s tax proposal was blocked by the state’s top court. And three other questions on raising the minimum wage, paid leave, and the sales tax were withdrawn after lawmakers decided to act on the issues last month.
Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office announced the three final certified questions in a press release Monday morning, as well as the order they’ve been assigned on the ballot. Here’s an overview:
Question 1: Patient-to-Nurse Limits
Question 1 would place a limit on the number of patients a single nurse can be assigned at a time and impose a $25,000 fine on hospitals that violate those ratios.
The exact ratios would vary depending on the hospital department and the type of patients for which the nurse is caring. For example, the maximum number of patients a nurse could be assigned in the pediatric department would be four, while the limit in the emergency services department would range between one and five, depending on the seriousness of the patients’ conditions.
As WGBH recently reported, nurses unions say the initiative, if passed, would result in increased safety and better overall outcomes for patients, while the hospital industry says it could result in longer wait times and even the closing of some hospitals.
Read the full initiative here.
Question 2: Commission on Limiting Election Spending and Corporate Rights
Question 2 would create a citizen commission to push a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision on campaign finance.
Critics say the controversial ruling, which held that the government could not restrict political spending by corporations, increased the undue influence of money in politics and is “a serious and direct threat to our democracy.”
If passed, Massachusetts’s top elected officials would appoint members to the 15-person commission, which would go on to research the current campaign finance system and recommend an amendment to overturn Citizens United.
Read the full initiative here.
Question 3: Transgender Anti-Discrimination
Question 3 proposes to repeal the 2016 state law that banned discrimination against transgender people in places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, malls, and restrooms. Polls have shown that it could be the most competitive measure on the ballot.
The groups backing the initiative say the public accommodations bill is broadly worded and allows individuals to access bathrooms or locker rooms of the opposite sex. Supporters of the 2016 law say there isn’t one incident of assault or invasion of privacy that has occurred as a result of the law.
Due to potential confusion due to the required wording of the referendum, Galvin noted that a “yes” vote on Question 3 would actually keep in place the current law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public places. Meanwhile, a “no” vote would repeal that part of the law.
Read the referendum here.