By Bob Katzen
Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s office announced that sponsors of seven ballot questions have met the signature and all other requirements to take the next step to get on the 2018 ballot. These proposals now go 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.
The seven questions include:
HIKE MINIMUM WAGE – Increases the minimum hourly wage from $11 per hour to $12 in 2019, $13 in 2020, $14 in 2021 and $15 in 2022.
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE – Creates a program to provide paid family and medical leave to Massachusetts workers
REDUCE SALES TAX TO 5 PERCENT AND ESTABLISH SALES TAX HOLIDAY – Reduces the state’s sale tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent and, at the same time, establishes 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 tax.
LIMIT THE NUMBER OF PATIENTS PER NURSE – Limits how many patients can be assigned to each registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and certain other healthcare facilities. The maximum number of patients per registered nurse would vary by type of unit and level of care.
CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS – Creates a citizens’ commission to consider and recommend potential amendments to the U.S. Constitution to establish that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as human beings and that corporations’ campaign contributions and expenditures may be regulated. The proposal is in response to the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
In that decision, the court ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting corporations, unions and individuals from donating unlimited funds to Super Political Action Committees (PACs) that do not donate directly to candidates or political parties.
4 PERCENT TAX HIKE ON MILLIONAIRES – Proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow a graduated income tax in Massachusetts and impose an additional 4 percent income tax, in addition to the current flat 5.10 percent tax, on taxpayers’ earnings of more than $1 million.
REPEAL TRANSGENDER RIGHTS – Repeals the new law that prohibits discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations by adding “gender identity” to existing Massachusetts law which already prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, religion and marital status.