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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Massachusetts voters pass ballot questions on farm animals, marijuana

Question 1:

Massachusetts voters decidedly rejected Question 1 which, if passed, would have granted the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the ability to issue one additional slots parlor license than is currently allowed under state law. As of press time, 60.6 percent of voters rejected the question and 39.4 percent voted in favor of it.

Locally, 73 percent of Somerville voters and 65 percent of Medford voters voted no, according to the Boston Globe.

The question has little impact on Tufts students either way, as the stipulations for where the additional slots parlor could be located precluded the possibility of the license being granted to a location anywhere near the university.

Still, as voting citizens, students had opinions on the question.

“I read that casinos bring a lot of issues to organized crimes and unsafe practices … so I voted no,” junior Ani Soultanian said. 

No changes in state laws regulating the gambling licenses will be made as a result of this decision, which means that Massachusetts will not be allowed to grant any additional casino or slot machine licenses.

Question 2:

Massachusetts voters rejected Question 2, which would have expanded the state's charter school system, by a decisive margin. As of press time, 62.1 of voters statewide, including 68 percent of Medford voters and 71.2 percent of Somerville voters voted no, according to the Associated Press.

Even though Question 2 did not pass, the state is still able to approve additional charter schools because there are only 69 Commonwealth charter schools, and the cap is 72, according to a fact sheet by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

However, according to a DESE report, additional charter schools will not be licensed in the City of Somerville because the city is already at its charter school funding cap.

Prior to the election's results, several Tufts students expressed opposition to Question 2, arguing that charter schools threaten funding for struggling public schools.

“I am against Question 2 because lifting the cap on charter schools is excessive," Blaine Dzwonczyk, a senior, said. "I think public funds should go to public schools who serve the vast majority of children in Massachusetts.”

Lindsay Sanders, a junior who has volunteered for opposition campaign Save our Public Schools, said that she is pleased with the result.

"I'm excited. I had been worried because the polls were close, but we have been working hard for a really long time," Sanders said. "Ultimately, I think this is what will be best for all children in Massachusetts."

Question 3:

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly passed Question 3, which will place new restrictions on the sale of food products that were produced by confined animals. At press time, 77.6 percent of voters statewide voted yes, with 80.8 percent of Medford voters and 83.9 percent of Somerville voters voting yes, according to the Associated Press.

According to the law, businesses statewide will be prohibited from knowingly selling pork, veal and eggs from animals that were confined cruelly, which the law defines as the animal being unable to stand up, lie down, extend its limbs or turn around. According to WBUR News, only one farm in Massachusetts confines animals using those practices.

The law will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2022. The Massachusetts Attorney General will be responsible for its enforcement.

Locally, 80.8 percent of Medford voters and 83.9 percent of Somerville voters voted yes on Question 3, according to the Boston Globe.

The New England Brown Egg Council, which wrote the opposition statement in the state's Information for Voters guide, argued that the law would increase food prices. Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, however, says that it will make food safer and more humane.

Question 4:

Massachusetts voters passed Question 4 yesterday, legalizing medical and recreational marijuana use, possession, cultivation and distribution for individuals aged 21 and older.

The victory comes after a fierce public battle between the question’s proponents and critics that has played out over the last few months in the media and through advertising, including anear-million dollar contribution from the Archdiocese of Boston, according to The Atlantic.

Four other states — California, Nevada, Maine and Arizona — had ballot questions addressing the legalization of recreational marijuana as well, with California also voting yes at press time.

Massachusetts and California join Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska in their recreational marijuana laws.

Nate Krinsky, a member of Tufts Progressive Alliance who canvassed for Yes on 4 before election day, said that the vote was a victory not only for marijuana users but also for low-income communities that had been disproportionately victimized by the war on drugs.

“We believe it's imperative to end our backwards drug laws and move toward an era of common sense drug reform,” Krinsky, a sophomore, told the Daily in an electronic message before the vote passed. “We're optimistic that voters in our state will choose to be on the right side of history and be a part of the larger legalization trend that's happening on the national level.”

Tufts Executive Director of Public Relations Patrick Collins did not respond to the Daily’s request for comment regarding how this might affect university policy by press time.

Locally, 75.6 percent of Somerville voters voted yes on the question, while 58.1 percent of Medford voters voted yes, according to the Boston Globe.

Question 5:

Somerville voters passed Question 5, authorizing the city to raise property taxes to pay for a new high school in the city. With all precincts reporting, 72 percent of Somerville residents voted yes, according to CBS Boston.

According to the City of Somerville's website, the new high school will cost $256 million, with $120 million paid for by the Massachusetts School Building Authority and $136 million to be footed by the city.

The website states that a new high school is needed because the high school building is old, structurally deficient and obsolete. Officials estimate that the city would incur roughly the same costs if the city chose to renovate the existing structure.

Annual debt service payments will be phased in for Somerville property owners over the course of several decades. Taxes will peak in 2027, with the average two-family home paying an extra $349 in taxes, according to the city's website.