There’s never been a more apt usage of the phrase “the elephant in the room” than after this election. However, this article will not be about said elephant; its focus will be further down the ballot.

This year, like every other year, the voters of Massachusetts had more than just a president to decide on in the voting booths: there were four additional questions on the ballot, which each earned their place via petition. They each had the potential to change our way of life in Belmont. Here are detailed breakdowns of each question and its result.

 

Question 1: Should the state be allowed to issue an additional slot parlor license?

Verdict: No (61%)

Belmont Voted: No (76.5%)

Governor Charlie Baker’s Position: Opposed*

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Position: Unknown

Eugene McCain, a major casino developer, was responsible for this question. He intended to build Massachusetts’ second slots parlor in Revere (the existing one is at Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville)*. The voters were happy with one, it seems. Belmont’s extreme degree of opposition compared to the state overall is the only notable thing about this question.

 

Question 2: Should the Board of Education be allowed to approve more charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools?

Verdict: No (62%)

Belmont Voted: No (62.7%)

Gov. Baker’s Position: In Favor*

Mayor Walsh’s Position: Opposed*

Charter schools are government funded, privately operated schools which serve as an alternative to public schools. If passed, this measure would have given the Board of Education the authority to approve up to 12 new charter schools in the state.

Opponents of the question feared that public schools would lose funding and attention, while its proponents’ main concern was the lack of opportunity for the children of Boston*. We in Belmont would not have felt any real effect from the passing of this measure, seeing as our public schools are of high quality; many have questioned the decision to have suburbs such as Belmont vote on the proposition if it was intended for kids in urban areas.

 

Question 3: Should the sale of farm products from animals not raised in spaces that meet a minimum size requirement be prohibited?

Verdict: Yes (78%)

Belmont Voted: Yes (79.8%)

Gov. Baker’s Position: In Favor*

Mayor Walsh’s Position: Unknown

The passing of this question is historic: it is the first time the sale of products from animals raised in a particular way has ever been outlawed in any state. However, it won’t take effect for another six years*.

As a result of the measure, animals in Massachusetts farms will be liberated from their tight enclosures and provided more room to move around. But because there are so relatively few farms in Massachusetts, the impact will be mainly on imports of animal products. Many opponents of the proposal fear it will make food products too expensive for low-income families. For instance, the price of eggs may increase by 12 cents per dozen, or as much as $1 per dozen*. As other states begin to tackle the issue of humane treatment of farm animals, it is impossible to tell how drastically prices will be affected when the law goes into effect in 2022.

Question 4: Should recreational marijuana be legal for persons age 21 and older?

Verdict: Yes (54%)

Belmont Voted: Yes (52.5%)

Gov. Baker’s Position: Opposed*

Mayor Walsh’s Position: Opposed*

Massachusetts has been a somewhat marijuana-friendly state, having decriminalized the possession of an ounce or less in 2008 and legalized medical marijuana in 2012*. This decision was inevitable; if the question had failed this year, it would only come up again and again until it passed.

With the passing of this question, marijuana will be treated similarly to alcohol. Adults (21 and older) will be allowed to have under 10 ounces in their homes and under 1 ounce in public. Additionally, one may cultivate up to six cannabis plants. Marijuana will be taxable by the state, and its use and sale will be regulated further*. Some Belmontonians can be expected to take advantage of this new policy.

Sources Used:

*Nik DeKosta-Klipa, “Here’s How Gov. Charlie Baker Is Filling Out His Election Day Ballot,” The Boston Globe, November 8, 2016, accessed November 10, 2016, https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2016/11/08/heres-how-gov-charlie-baker-is-filling-out-his-election-day-ballot.

*Gimtautas Dumcius, “Question 1, Authorizing Second Slots Parlor in Massachusetts, Fails,” MassLive.com (Springfield, MA), November 8, 2016, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/11/question_1_which_would_authori.html.

*Martin J. Walsh, “Vote ‘No’ on Question 2,” The Boston Globe, October 18, 2016, accessed November 10, 2016, https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/10/18/vote-question/G9mDK1u7xe8TG4PNlN1QbK/story.html.

*David Scharfenberg, “Mass. Voters Reject Ballot Question on Charter Schools,” The Boston Globe, November 8, 2016, accessed November 10, 2016, https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/08/charter/v34OA3vMI8dRABDsFc4JuM/story.html.

*Joshua Miller, “Question 3 Is Approved in Massachusetts,” The Boston Globe, November 8, 2016, accessed November 10, 2016, https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/11/08/voters-decide-measure-mandate-cage-free-eggs/BGJTX5ETCt2pKppz9AqTTM/story.html.

*Jen Christensen and Meera Senthilingam, “Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada Approve Recreational Use of Marijuana,” CNN, last modified November 9, 2016, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/09/health/marijuana-legalization-election-results/index.html.

 

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