Four Massachusetts Referenda Meet Defeat at Polls

Massachusetts voters yesterday rejected referendum proposals for a handgun ban, uniform electric rates, a graduated income tax and a public power authority.

Early this morning, Question 6, calling for mandatory returnable beverage bottles, was too close to call, and both sides still hoped for victory.

The mood at bottle bill headquarters on Beacon Hill was "generally optimistic," last night, Richard Innes '78, Sierra club bottle bill coordinator, said.

Innes, who worked for the bill's passage since June, said that the crucial Boston returns, which came in at 1 a.m., pointed toward a bottle bill victory.

Three blocks away, members of the Committee to Protect Jobs, the groups opposing Question 6, were confident that the proposal would be defeated.

"It's going to go 100 per cent our way because I'm 3000 per cent in favor of a 'no' vote," a committee member said last night.

People vs. Handguns watched their campaign to pass Question 5 go down to defeat last night from the top floor of the Parker House in Boston.

By midnight, most of the 25 people still in the room knew that the proposal was losing three to two. Still, the supporters were optimistic about the campaign.

"We've won because we've raised the handgun issue to one of the top four or five issues in the country," John J. Buckley, sheriff of Middlesex County and leader of the campaign, said last night.

Buckley's assistant, Robert Deutsch, said that the appearance of the proposed handgun ban on the ballot was a good sign. "To make an issue an issue is significant. I'm confident that in the long run we'll be able to put an end to the domestic arms race," Deutsch added.

Supporters of flat electric rates resigned themselves to their proposal's defeat last night in the face of intense opposition by big business.

Mark R. Dyen '72, Mass Fair Share research director, said he lost his optimism about the passage of Question 7 during the week before the election, when the big-business-backed opposition began an advertising blitz.

Dyen estimated that in the final week the referendum's opponents spent 10 to 20 times what Fair Share did on its campaign.

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly rejected the graduated income tax and the proposal to create a public power authority. The graduated tax proposal, Question 2, would have created a new income tax structure making tax rates proportional to income. This is the fourth time voters have rejected the proposal.

Question 4, the proposal for a state takeover of wholesale electric power generation, lost by a margin of more than 2 to 1. The referendum was drafted by Rep. Michael J. Harrington '58 (D-Mass.) and was opposed by the state's power companies.

Massachusetts voters did approve two other proposals, both of which are non-binding referenda.

Voters recommended that the state build an oil refinery and accompanying deep-water port for supertankers.

Voters also recommended that the state repeal its "blue laws," which require that most stores remain closed on Sundays.