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Mass. Voters To Decide Policy Issues On The Ballot

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Massachusetts voters have a long history of deciding weighty policy questions use referendum voters,whether it be deciding whether to reinstate the death penalty, or approving the sale of medical marijuana.

2014 is no different.

Activists pushing seven ballot questions spent much of last year ensuring their proposals passed constitutional muster and collecting the tens of thousands of voter signatures needed to claim a spot on November’s ballot.

Now comes the hard part — persuading voters to support their ideas. That effort can cost millions, depending on the question.

The questions heading toward the ballot this year include ones that would repeal the state’s casino gambling law, raise the minimum wage and expand the state’s existing bottle deposit law.

Other proposed questions would limit the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time, require hospitals to be transparent about financial holdings, create a statewide earned sick time policy and repeal a new law linking future increases in the gas tax to the rate of inflation.

There is a shortcut.

Before landing on the ballot, the questions first head to the state Legislature, where lawmakers have the option of approving them or taking no action. In the latter case, supporters would need to collect a second, smaller batch of signatures to guarantee a ballot spot.

One measure that could be approved before it reaches the ballot is the minimum wage question that would raise the wage from $8 to $10.50 per hour over two years and link automatic future increases to the rate of inflation.  (Associated Press)

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