By Bob Katzen
Sponsors of several possible ballot questions for the November 2018 election faced their second deadline in the long process to get their proposed law or constitutional amendment on the ballot.
Sponsors had until last week on November 22nd to gather signatures and file them with local city and town clerks who then certify the valid signatures. Petitioners then must file 64,750 valid signatures with the secretary of state’s office by December 6, 2017.
The proposal would then be sent to the Legislature and if not approved by May 2, 2018, proponents must gather another 10,792 signatures by July 4, 2018, in order for the question to appear on the November 2018 ballot.
Supporters try to gather a lot more than the 64,750 signatures required in order to ensure that they have 64,750 certified ones. Proponents of three of the most controversial proposed ballot questions were all confident that they have gathered enough signatures to satisfy this next step.
The proposals would increase the minimum hourly wage to $12 in 2019, $13 in 2020, $14 in 2021 and $15 in 2022; create a program to provide paid family and medical leave to Massachusetts workers; and reduce the state’s sale tax from 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent and at the same time establish an annual two-day permanent sales tax holiday in August that allows consumers to buy most products that cost under $2,500 without paying the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.
“We are very confident that when our signatures are submitted to the secretary of state in two weeks our initiative to roll back the sales tax to 5 percent and to bring back the sales tax holiday will qualify for the ballot … the total number [of signatures] will certainly be more than the 64,750 threshold,” said Jon Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
“We’ve collected 270,500 combined signatures. 137,000 for the $15 minimum wage and 133,500 for paid family and medical leave,” said Andrew Farntiano, the spokesman for Raise Up Massachusetts, the group behind the $15 minimum wage and paid family and medical leave ballot questions. “Our signature collection totals exceeded our already high expectations.”