2018 Massachusetts Ballot Questions Forum

The Haverhill Democratic City Committee (HDCC) presented Ballot Breakdown, a discussion forum on the three November ballot questions, at Haverhill’s HC Media Center in Harbor Place on October 25.  Speakers discussed the Yes and No vote on Question 1, and one speaker each spoke for a Yes vote on Ballot Questions 2 and 3.  The Massachusetts Democratic Party has endorsed Yes votes on Ballot Questions 2 and 3.

Before each ballot question discussion, Bill Cox, Chair of the HDCC, read each ballot measure in full. After each presenter spoke, members of the audience asked questions.

Ballot Question 1: The Nurse-Patient Assignment Limit Initiative

This was the only ballot discussion in which both pro and con speakers were present. Speaking first for Yes on Question 1, the Nurse-Patient Assignment Limit Initiative,  was Mary Sue Collins, occupation here who presented an effective argument for voting Yes. She described the situation Massachusetts nurses face today, past attempts at improving nurse/patient ratios and made many comparisons with the experience of California, which enacted safe patient limits in 2004. She outlined how patient safety and care by hospitals and nursing could improve if Massachusetts voted Yes. For more information on voting Yes on Question 1, see this webpage.

Speaking for No on Question 1 side was Karen Moore, VP for Nursing Operations at Lawrence General Hospital. She first explained the possible difficulties hospitals would face if the law is enacted, including nursing demographics. She then made her own comparisons to California, saying that Massachusetts hospitals already outperform California hospitals in many ways, including emergency room wait times. Moore then explored the potential negative financial impact of the law. For more information on voting No on Question 1, see this webpage.

Ballot Question 2: Advisory Commission for Amendments to the U.S. Constitution Regarding Corporate Personhood and Political Spending Initiative (2018)

Speaking for voting Yes on Question 2 was Alexandra Chandler, former congressional candidate for the Massachusetts Third District.  Voting Yes on Question 2 would establish a 15-member citizens’ state commission to study amending the constitution to regulate money in politics and negate corporate personhood. After going through the history of money in politics, Chandler explained that there was a lot of debate on how to approach the problem, and this commission would investigate and research other countries, bring a diverse perspective to the problem, and come and produce a durable proposal to influence the national conversation on getting money out of politics. Constitutional amendments are a long term effort and the Commission would stay active until a final vote is taken.

The goal of this Commission is not just the report; the commission also will establish accountability. Candidates often talk about getting money out of politics, but then once elected and the reality of how money influences their actions is realized, that priority drops. Although other states have passed resolutions, Massachusetts can lead the national conversation with the results of this report.

Chandler concluded by what talking about what we can achieve by limiting money in politics. Now, only issues that lobbyists advocate ( financed by special interests) will be addressed, while issues like student loan debt, which don’t have a powerful lobby won’t get addressed. It will also increase the diversity of people running for elected office. Now, only people who can “raise a million dollars” can run for office, mostly wealthy white men. Candidates often spend as much as 4-6 hours a day fundraising – it distorts the perception of our elected officials as to what’s important to their constituents.

Ballot Question 3: Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum 

Speaking in favor of voting Yes on Question 3 was Nicholas Golden, need occupation here. Two years ago, Massachusetts passed an antitermination measure to protect transgender individuals. A Yes vote will keep this antidiscrimination measure in place; a No vote will repeal it, removing protection for transgender people. Golden pointed out that the ballot measure as written is very confusing, so you must know ahead of time how you’re going to vote.

Golden shared statistics from public-watch organizations like police, mayor, sexual assault, and domestic violence organizations that proved that this law does not cause an increase in crime – there have been zero public safety issues because of this law. The No on 3 side would have you believe the opposite, but it is just not true.

Yes on Question 3 has numerous endorsements, including Charlie Baker, the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and The Boston Globe. The bottom line, says Golden, is that a No vote takes people’s rights away, so vote Yes on 3. For more information on voting Yes on 3, please follow this link.