Fall River Chamber of Commerce CEO Talks Ballot Questions
Massachusetts voters will get to determine the outcome of four ballot questions when they head to the polls Nov. 8 and a leader of the region's business community is sharing his thoughts on these questions.
Robert A. Mellion, Esq., President and CEO of the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry, spoke with WBSM's Barry Richard about these four ballot questions on Tuesday.
The first up was ballot Question 1 which would allow the state Gaming Commission to issue one additional category 2 license, permitting the operation of a gaming establishment with no table games and no more than 1,250 slot machines.
While it is still unknown what impact this will have on Plainridge Park Casino Mellion that for the business casino the real issue regards the recent litigation surrounding the First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton.
"It has been bogged down in litigation," said Mellion "and I was just reading yesterday that Brockton is making another petition to get the Gaming Commission to re-look at their application."
Question 2, which would life the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts, is undoubtedly one of the most hotly debated questions on the ballot.
Mellion says the chamber isn't taking any stance on the issue, since many business leaders have relationships with superintendents and many leaders also serve on the Board of Directors for various charter schools.
However, he says there is a budget concern when it comes to students who enroll in charter schools and don't finish.
"A student who does not succeed at a charter school, the money goes to the charter school, but then the student can potentially be thrown into the public school if they don't succeed, so that creates a funding problem," said Mellion.
Question 3 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.
Although this question is not discussed as much, Mellion believes it could have a major impact on businesses and consumers.
"If it passes Question 3 is going to raise the cost of food in Massachusetts, no doubt about it," said Mellion "food providers, restaurants, food manufacturers, are going to have to get their ingredients from outside of Massachusetts and that's why I say it's going to raise the cost of food."
The last question, Question 4, would permit the possession, use, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana in limited amounts by persons age 21 and older.
Mellion says this law, if passed by voters, would create a whole new set of challenges for companies that operate in the Bay State, since the use of marijuana is still prohibited under federal law.
"Many businesses who rely on, or do business, do commerce with the government, or do business that involves laws of the government are concerned about what this is going to do to them," said Mellion.
Mellion says there are also other concerns around liability should an accident be caused by an employee who was impared by marijuana.