Now we know the election results in Massachusetts. We had a few ballot questions, four to be exact. Ballot questions are not laws that deal with taxes, but they are real issues that deal with policy. Ballot questions are policy issues that affect the quality of life in Massachusetts.
To understand a bit about ballot question law in Massachusetts, and when these questions may or may not become law, it is important to understand a little about the ballot question drafting process.
Each ballot question, also called an “indirect initiated state statute question“, is essentially a proposal regarding some sort of Massachusetts policy, made by concerned citizens. Law-makers of either the Senate or the House of Representatives or both do not draft these types of laws. Concerned citizens draft the proposed laws.
Concerned citizens take information on the topics that are important to them and draft proposals on the law. The drafts may be redrafted a few times until the final draft comes out in the form of a ballot question. The ballot question proposals must have petition signatures. Then, the Massachusetts state legislatures, the Massachusetts State Attorney General and the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) all play a roll in the approval process. In the final step, the ballot question proposals or petitions finally become approved as Massachusetts state ballot questions. If approved, the Massachusetts ballot question will become law. Learn more about this process, here.
If approved, the dates the laws will take effect are drafted into the law itself. The way the law was written or drafted, is the way the law will be interpreted. The dates these laws will take effect or become actual enforceable state law, are included in the draft petitions. In other words, effective dated are always drafted or written directly into the petitions that become final ballot questions.
Below, is the list of Ballot questions Massachusetts citizens voted on November 8th, 2016 and when they will become law.
Question 1 · Allows the state gaming commission to issue an additional slot parlor license. Massachusetts voted No, by 61%
Since a “No” vote will leave the law as-is, there is no question as to when this law will be enacted.
Question 2 · Allows the Board of Education to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in current charter schools each year. Massachusetts voted No, by 62%.
Since a “No” vote will leave the charter school cap as it stands, there is no question as to when this law will be enacted. There are no changes to the law.
Question 3 · Prohibits selling farm products from animals not raised in spaces that meet a minimum size requirement. Massachusetts voted Yes, by 78%
Because this law was approved, this law will go into effect on January 1, 2022.
Question 4 · Allows the possession, use, distribution, and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by persons age 21 and older. Massachusetts voted Yes, by 54%.
Because this law has passed, this law will take effect December 15, 2016 and stores could open by early 2018.
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