Higher taxes for earnings over $1M, driver IDs and more questions are on November’s ballot
This information on upcoming ballot questions was pulled together by Norman Daoust, a Raymond Street resident, and supplemented with other information during the editing process.
In addition to helping choose a governor and the holders of other offices, voters in Cambridge have the opportunity Nov. 8 to weigh in on several ballot questions, several of which affect state laws.
Nos. 1 through 4 of the questions will appear on all ballots in the state and have names assigned by the secretary of the state. Information and arguments for and against all are can be flipped through on the secretary’s website under the “2022 Ballot Questions” category and are linked to below in the headlines for each question.
Questions No. 5 and 6 will appear only on the ballot of voters in the 25th Middlesex District part of Cambridge represented by Marjorie Decker. This district covers about 40 percent of Cambridge, from roughly Porter Square through Harvard Square to Central Square. Visit WhereDoIVoteMA.com and enter your address to see if you’re in it. These two questions will also appear in 19 other state representative districts across the state.
This would be a constitutional amendment. It is referred to as the “fair share amendment” and was previously called “the millionaires tax.”
The text of the question:
“Article 44 of the Massachusetts Constitution is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph at the end thereof:
“To provide the resources for quality public education and affordable public colleges and universities, and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation, all revenues received in accordance with this paragraph shall be expended, subject to appropriation, only for these purposes.
“In addition to the taxes on income otherwise authorized under this article, there shall be an additional tax of 4 percent on that portion of annual taxable income in excess of $1 million reported on any return related to those taxes.
“To ensure that this additional tax continues to apply only to the commonwealth’s highest-income taxpayers, this $1 million income level shall be adjusted annually to reflect any increases in the cost of living by the same method used for federal income tax brackets. This paragraph shall apply to all tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1.”
By one estimate, only about 4 percent of taxpayers would be affected by this additional tax. Note that this tax is only on the amount above $1 million; a person with income of $1.001 million (just $1,000 above $1 million) would pay $40 under this additional tax. WBUR has more on the question here.
A “yes” vote would implement this tax and provide additional revenue for public education and transportation. A “no” vote would not implement this additional tax.
This would be a law proposed by initiative petition (as opposed to a law passed by the state Legislature) that would regulate dental insurance in the state, similar in some ways to how the federal Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) regulates health insurance.
The full text of the law is three pages. The law would regulate dental insurance rates by tying increases in premiums to the consumer price index; require dental insurers to spend at least 83 percent of the premiums they collect from subscribers on dental care; and require reporting to the state’s Division of Insurance. It would effectively limit the percentage of premiums dental insurers could use for such things as administrative expenses, marketing and profits. WBUR has more on the question here.
A “yes” vote would change current regulations for dental insurers. A “no” vote would make no change.
This would be another law proposed by initiative petition, not a law passed by the state Legislature.
The full text of the law is three pages. Among other things, the law would significantly increase the number of licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption; a current retailer (for example, package stores but not bars or restaurants) could have to 18 by 2031. It would also limit the number of “all-alcoholic beverages” licenses a retailer could have to seven unless the retailer already has more than seven, effectively favoring retailers that already have more than seven “all-alcoholic beverage” licenses. Another change is that stores would be able to accept out-of-state IDs as proof of age for liquor sales. boston.com has more here.
A “yes” vote would change current regulations. A “no” vote would make no changes.
This is known as a referendum on a newly enacted law known as the “The Work and Family Mobility Act,” sometimes referred to as the “immigrant drivers’ licenses” law. Note that information on this question is not included in the red booklet titled “Information for Voters” that was mailed to the voters in the state.
The text of the question is “Do you approve of a law summarized below, which was approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate on May 26?” That law allows state residents, regardless of immigration status, to get a driver’s license or permit if they meet the requirements for doing so, including provide at least two documents to verify their date of birth and identity, one of which must include a photo. Seventeen other states have similar laws.
Sheriffs, chiefs of police and district attorneys are in favor of this law. South Hadley Police Chief Jennifer Gundersen told WBUR that passage in other states have brought thousands of undocumented persons out “to get licenses, to get educated, to get insured, to have their cars inspected,” which increases safety. More from the station is here.
A “yes” vote would leave the law in place. A “no” vote would repeal it.
Question 5: Single-payer health care
This question is sometimes referred to as “Medicare for All.” It is known as a Public Policy Question and is nonbinding, meaning it does not require a state representative to take any specific action. The text asks: “Shall the representative from this district be instructed to vote for legislation to create a single-payer system of universal health care that provides all Massachusetts residents with comprehensive health care coverage including the freedom to choose doctors and other health care professionals, facilities and services, and eliminates the role of insurance companies in health care by creating an insurance trust fund that is publicly administered?”
A “yes” vote asks state Rep. Decker to vote for what is typically known as “Medicare for All.”A “no” vote indicates you do not want Decker to vote for “Medicare for All.”
Question 6: Transparency for state reps
This question is sometimes referred to as “State House transparency.” Similar to Question 5, this is a nonbinding public policy question. The text asks: “Shall the representative for this district be instructed to vote in favor of changes to the applicable House of Representatives rules to make each legislator’s vote in that body’s legislative committees publicly available on the Legislature’s website?”
Most legislative work is performed in committees, and this would let voters know how their representative votes. The state Senate has been publishing all of its committee votes since 2021. The state House of Representatives voted against the idea July 7, 2021. It makes members’ “no” votes public if residents call the house committee and provide them a bill number; “yes” votes and abstentions are not available to the public.
A “yes” vote asks state Rep. Decker to vote in favor of changing the rules toward transparency. A “no” vote indicates you do not want Decker to vote to change current rules.