And The Nays Have It
It wasn't a good week for progressive legislation, but it was a great week for Massachusetts business.
Massachusetts voters rejected changes in the system in favor of trying to create a good business climate in the state, and trying to limit governmental powers.
The only progressive legislation that passed was the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and even that had some problems. But when the final tallies were in, the ERA had passed by a three-to-two margin.
Throughout the campaign, anti-ERA groups said that women would be liable for the support of their husbands and for the draft.
The Committee to Ratify the ERA successfully countered the charges, saying that housewives supported their husbands already and that the state doesn't have a draft, making it impossible for women to be drafted under the state ERA.
Massachusetts voters were thinking about the poor condition of the state's economy when they rejected the graduated income tax, the bottle bill, and the uniform electric rates.
It was the fourth time Massachusetts voters had rejected the graduated income tax. Opponents claimed that the proposal would increase the individual's tax burden, and hurt the business climate of the state.
The proponents of the new tax structure, who had fewer dollars than their opponents, contended that people earning less than $22,000 per year would pay smaller taxes while only those earning more would pay more. The tax wouldn't have had any direct impact on business, but the voters weren't taking any chances.
The bottle bill, which was very popular in Cambridge, wasn't so popular in many industrial parts of the state, because people believed business's claims that making all beverage bottles returnable would eliminate thousands of jobs.
The supporters of the bill said that there'd be a net gain of jobs, because bottlers would have to move into the state to produce returnable bottles. This argument didn't convince the voters of cities such as Lowell, a mill town in northern Massachusetts, who rejected the proposal, 21,780 to 1217.
Opponents of uniform electric rates did a good job spreading their view that the state would lose many jobs if everyone paid the same rate for electricity. The electorate, wary of hurting the economy, rejected this referendum by nearly a three-to-one margin.
A trend against governmental interference was evident in the vote on the public power authority and the handgun ban.
Voters decided that the power companies were doing a good job delivering power and that the state would do an inefficient job at the same task.
The two-to-one vote against private ownership of handguns showed voters' resentment to government interference. The voters decided the government didn't have the right to ban something that causes more than 200 deaths in the state per year.
But the basic attitude of the voters was against any change, especially if it might hurt business.