This election day — in addition to casting a vote for the governorship or the Senate — Massachusetts voters will tackle three questions at the bottom of their ballots. These questions touch on issues including nurse-to-patient ratios, the use of money in politics, and the legality of discrimination against transgender individuals.
The Crimson breaks down what you need to know about each question below.
The first question asks voters’ opinion of a law that would limit the number of patients that can be assigned to a given nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and certain other healthcare facilities. The exact number would vary according to hospital size and the demand seen by that facility.
The law's supporters say it will improve patient safety and the quality of care. The bill would likely push Massachusetts hospitals to hire more nurses, and detractors say it could increase financial pressure on some healthcare organizations. The question has proved controversial — nurses and nurse groups across the state are split on the issue.
A “yes” vote would limit the number of patients per nurse. A “no” vote would maintain current laws, which place no limits on the number of patients per nurse.
The second question asks about an initiative meant to limit the role of money in politics. If adopted, Question 2 would establish a commision of 15 volunteers from across the state and task it with advocating for a United States Constitutional amendment to overturn the landmark 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.
The Citizens United case set the precedent that corporations are entitled to the same rights as people in the United States. In addition to pushing to cancel that ruling, the hypothetical commission would also seek to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures made by corporations. The proposal enjoys widespread and bipartisan support from Massachusetts politicians including Republican Governor Charles D. Baker ’79 and Democratic Senator Elizabeth A. Warren. Recent polling has indicated that a majority of Massachusetts voters favor the idea.
A “yes” vote would establish a commission and task it with advocating to overturn Citizens United in addition to pushing for a limit on corporate political spending. A “no” vote would not establish such a commission.
While Questions 1 and 2 both refer to possible future developments, Question 3 deals with a 2016 law that already exists. That law bans discrimination on the basis of gender in places of "public accomodation, resort, or amusement" in Massachussetts. A “yes” vote would keep that law as-is, while a "no" vote would rescind it.
If kept, the current law adds gender identity to a longer-standing list of prohibited grounds for discrimination including race, skin color, religious creed, national origin, sex, disability, and ancestry. In traditionally progressive Massachusetts, Question 3 has garnered tremendous public support.
A “yes” vote would keep the current law banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity. A “no” vote would repeal this law.
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