Study the Ballot Questions

November 4, 2016
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Q.1 Expanded Slot Machine Gambling

This proposed law would allow the state Gaming Commission to issue one additional category 2 license which would permit operation of a gaming establishment with no table games and not more than 1,250 slot machines.

The proposed law would authorize the Commission to request applications for additional license to be granted to a gaming establishment located on property that is at least four acres in size, adjacent to and within 1,500 feet of a race track, including the track’s additional facilities, such as the track, grounds, paddocks, barns, auditorium, amphitheatre, and bleachers, where a horse racing meeting may physically be held, where a horse racing meeting shall have been hosted, and not separated from the race track by a highway or railway.

 

A YES VOTE would permit the state Gaming Commission to license one additional slot-machine gaming establishment at a location that meets certain conditions specified in the law.

A NO VOTE would make no change in current laws regarding gambling.

 

ARGUMENTS

IN FAVOR: Voting YES allows one additional slots parlor in Massachusetts, providing millions of dollars to Massachusetts communities and creating thousands of jobs. In 2013 alone, Massachusetts residents who played at neighboring state gaming facilities gave those states over $240 Million that could have stayed in Massachusetts.

Under the Gaming Law, nearly half the revenue collected benefits all Massachusetts residents.

If a community does not want it, it will not go there.

About $1 of every $5 collected goes to our State’s horse racing industry, sustaining jobs at racetracks and breeding farms.

 

AGAINST: Legalized casino gambling in the Commonwealth is too new and unproven to expand at this time.

There is one slot parlor in Massachusetts, and it is underperforming

Five casinos are expected to be opened in Massachusetts by 2019.

The ballot question was written by a casino developer, which may disrupt the process and limits established by the Legislature

Allowing it now will create a domino effect, and bring more casino and gaming developers to Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q.2 CHARTER SCHOOL EXPANSION

This proposed law would allow the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year. Approvals under this law could expand statewide charter school enrollment by up to 1% of the total statewide public school enrollment each year. New charters and enrollment expansions approved under this law would be exempt from existing limits on the number of charter schools, the number of students enrolled in them, and the amount of local school districts’ spending allocated to them.

If the Board received more than 12 applications in a single year from qualified applicants, then the proposed law would require it to give priority to proposed charter schools or enrollment expansions in districts where student performance on statewide assessments is in the bottom 25% of all districts in the previous two years and where demonstrated parent demand for additional public school options is greatest.

New charter schools and enrollment expansions approve under this proposed law would be subject to the same approval standards as other charter schools, and to recruitment, retention, and multilingual outreach requirements that currently apply to some charter schools. Schools authorized under this law would be subject to annual performance reviews according to standards established by the Board.

The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2017.

 

A YES VOTE would allow for up to 12 approvals each year of either new charter schools or expanded enrollments in existing charter schools, but not exceed 1% of the statewide public school enrollment.

A NO VOTE would make no change in current laws relative to charter schools.

 

ARGUMENTS:

IN FAVOR: A YES Vote on Question 2 gives parents the right to choose the best public schools for their children.

Charter schools are PUBLIC schools, open to all children. They offer longer school days and more individual attention, and have a proven record of closing the achievement gap for kids trapped in failing school districts.

Today, almost 33,000 children are stuck on waiting lists for public charter schools.

Voting YES does not harm local school districts. Cities and towns with new public charter schools will receive MORE state education aid if Question 2 passes.

 

AGAINST: Every time a new charter school opens or expands, it takes funding away from the public schools in that district. This year alone, charter schools will take more than $400 Million from already underfunded Massachusetts public schools.

Under this proposal the number of charter schools in Massachusetts would nearly triple in the next 10 years, costing local public school districts more than $1 Billion a year.

If some public schools are falling short, we should fix them, not take money away and give it to privately-run charters. That means investing in areas such as STEM, arts and music, and Pre-K, not diverting resources to charters.

 

 

 

Q.3 CONDITIONS for farm animals

This proposed law would prohibit any farm owner or operator from knowingly confining any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely. The proposed law also prohibit any business owner or operator in Massachusetts from selling whole eggs intended for human consumption or any uncooked cut of veal or pork if the business owner or operator knows or should know that the hen, breeding pig, or veal calf that produced these products was confined in a manner prohibited by the proposed law. The proposed law would exempt sales of food products that combine veal or pork with other products, including soups, sandwiches, pizzas, hotdogs, or similar processed or prepared food items.

The proposed law’s confinement prohibitions would not apply during transportation; state and country fair exhibitions; 4-H programs; slaughter in compliance with applicable regulations; medical research; veterinary exams, testing, treatment and operation if performed under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian; five days prior to a pregnant pig’s expected date of giving birth; any day that pig is nursing piglets; and for temporary periods for animal husbandry purposed not to exceed six hours in any twenty-four hour period.

The proposed law would create a civic penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation and would give the Attorney General the exclusive authority to enforce the law, and to issue regulations to implement it. As a defense to enforcement proceedings, the proposed law would allow a business owner or operator to rely in good faith upon a written certification or guarantee of compliance by a supplier.

The proposed law would be in addition to any other animal welfare laws and would not prohibit stricter local laws.

The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2022. The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.

 

A YES VOTE would prohibit any confinement of pigs, calves, and hens that prevents them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely.

A NO VOTE would make no change in current laws relative to the keeping of farm animals.

 

ARGUMENTS:

IN FAVOR: A YES vote prevents cruel treatment of animals in Massachusetts by ending the practice of cramming farm animals into cages so small they can’t turn around or stretch their limbs, and will remove inhuman and unsafe products from the Massachusetts marketplace.

Endorsed by the MSPCA, Animal Rescue League of Boston, The Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Food Safety and Consumer Federation of America, and by Massachusetts family farmers and the United Farm Workers.

 

AGAINST: A NO vote is necessary to protect Massachusetts consumers’ right to choose from the variety of healthy foods available for purchase today.

Question 3 proposes to ban the sale of any veal, pork, and eggs from any state unless produced according to with wishes of the ballot promoters.

A study undertaken at Cornell University estimates the cost of eggs to consumers – for a family of 5 – would be $70 a year.

The study also notes that an increase in food prices disproportionately harms lower income households, and can impact their ability to maintain a healthy and adequate diet.

Let the free marketplace respond to consumer concerns. The veal industry plans to completely phase out veal crates by the end of 2017, and 175 food suppliers have already pledged to switch to cage free eggs.

The proposed government mandate is neither necessary, nor wise.

 

 

 

Q.4 Legalization,regulation,& taxation of marijuana

The proposed law would permit the possession, use, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana in limited amounts by persons age 21 and older and would remove criminal penalties for such activities. It would provide for the regulation of commerce in marijuana, marijuana accessories, and marijuana products and for the taxation of proceeds from sales of these items.

The proposed law would authorize persons at least 21 years old to possess up to ounce ounce of marijuana outside of their residence; possess up to then ounces of marijuana inside their residence; grow up to six marijuana plants in their residences; give one ounce or less of marijuana to a person at least 21 years old without payment; possess, produce, or transfer hemp; or make or transfer items related to marijuana use, storage, cultivation, or processing.

The measure would create a Cannabis Control Commission of three members appointed by the state Treasurer which would generally administer the law governing marijuana use and distribution, promulgate regulations, and be responsible for the licensing of marijuana commercial establishments. The proposed law would also create a Cannabis Advisory Board of fifteen members appointed by the Governor. The Cannabis Control Commission would adopt regulations governing licensing qualifications; security; record keeping; health and safety standards; packaging and labeling; testing; advertising and displays; required inspections; and other such matters as the Commission considers appropriate. The records of the Commission would be public records.

The proposed law would authorize cities and towns to adopt reasonable restrictions on the time, place, manner, of operating marijuana businesses and to limit the number of marijuana establishments in their communities. A city or town could hold a local vote to determine whether to permit the selling of marijuana and marijuana products for consumption on the premises at commercial establishments.

The proceeds of retail sales of marijuana and marijuana products would be subject to the state sales tax and an additional excise tax of 3.75%. A city or town could imp[ose a separate tax of up to 2%. Revenue received from the additional state excise tax or from license application fees and civil penalties for violations of this law would be deposited in a Marijuana Regulation Fund and would be used subject to appropriation for administration of the proposed law.

Marijuana-related activities authorized under this proposed law could not be a basis for adverse orders in child welfare cases absent clear and convincing evidence that such activities had created an unreasonable danger to the safety of a minor child.

The proposed law would not affect existing law regarding medical marijuana treatment centers or the operation of motor vehicles while under the influence. It would permit property owners to prohibit the use, sale, or production of marijuana on their premises (with an exception that landlords cannot prohibit consumption of marijuana by tenants by means other than by smoking); and would permit employers to prohibit the consumption of marijuana by employees in the workplace. State and local government could continue to restrict uses in public building or at or near schools. Supplying marijuana to persons under age 21 would be unlawful.

The proposed law would take effect on December 15, 2016.

 

A YES VOTE would allow persons 21 and older to possess, use, and transfer marijuana and products containing marijuana concentrate (including edible products), and to cultivate marijuana, all in limited amounts, and would provide for the regulation and taxation of commercial sale of marijuana and marijuana products.

A NO VOTE would make no change in current laws relative to marijuana.

 

ARGUMENTS:

IN FAVOR: A YES vote is favored by law enforcement veterans because it replaces the current unregulated marijuana market, controlled by drug dealer, with a tightly regulated system controlled by state and local authorities. Passing this measure will allow local law enforcement to shift resources and focus to serious and violent crimes.

The initiative includes strict regulations for business licensing, product testing, labeling and packaging, providing many more consumer safeguards than exist now. Marketing to minors is strictly prohibited, as is public use and driving under the influence.

Local cities and towns can limit or ban marijuana business, and will govern operating hours, locations, and signage.

Taxing marijuana will generate at least an estimated $100 Million in annual revenue for state and local governments.

Regulation and taxation is working in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, generating millions of dollars for education, infrastructure and more. Massachusetts can improve on the regulatory standards already in place and working elsewhere.

 

AGAINST: Vote NO on creating a billion-dollar commercial marijuana industry that, just like Big Tobacco, would make millions on the backs of our communities, compromise health and safety, and harm kids.

Vote NO because this measure:

Allows the sale and marketing of highly-potent marijuana edibles, like candy, cookies, gummy bears, and soda that are attractive to young people and can lead to accidental overdose by kids and pets

Allows people to “home grow” thousands of dollars’ worth of marijuana, even if neighbors object.

Ignores the deadly opioid epidemic and the impact legalized pot will have on overall drug use.

 

 

Q.5 Community preservation act

Shall Boston accept sections 3 to 7 inclusive, of Chapter 44B of the General Laws, as approved by the City Council, a summary of which appears below?

SUMMARY

Sections 3 to 7 of Chapter 44B of the General Laws of Massachusetts, also known as the Community Preservation Act (Act), establish a dedicated funding source to enable the City of Boston to (1) help meet affordable housing needs; (2) create and rehabilitate parks, playgrounds and athletic fields; (3) preserve land for outdoor recreational uses and conservation areas; and (4) preserve and rehabilitate historic buildings and resources. In Boston, the funding source for these community preservation purposes will be a surcharge of 1% on the annual property tax assessed on real property beginning in Fiscal Year 2018; plus other funds that may be committed by the City for community preservation purposes pursuant to Section 3(b) 1/2 of Chapter 44B; and annual distributions made by the state from a trust fund created by the Act. The Commonwealth provides funds only to communities adopting the Act. If approved, the following will be exempt from the surcharge: (1) property owned and occupied as a domicile by any person who qualifies for low income housing or low or moderate income senior housing as defined in Section 2 of the Act; (2) $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real property; and (3) $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of class three, commercial property and class four, industrial property as defined in Section 2A of Chapter 59. A taxpayer whose tax is reduced by an abatement or exemption will receive a reduction in their surcharge in proportion to the reduction. Upon acceptance of the Act by the voters, a Community Preservation Committee will be established to study community preservation needs, possibilities and resources, and to make annual recommendations on spending the funds.

 

A YES VOTE would make the above changes in the law, increasing property tax, and establishing a Community Preservation Committee to study, observe, and allocate the funds annually where they are needed most.

A NO VOTE would make no change in current laws relative to community preservation and property tax in the community.

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