EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 8, 2013

A taste of the issues coming up on the Nov. ballot

State House News Service
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BOSTON — While some will likely be ruled ineligible for the ballot and others will find signature-gathering hurdles too high, a mid-summer deadline yesterday gave Massachusetts voters a taste of the issues they may be asked to decide in November 2014.

Sponsors of several proposed initiative petitions submitted language and the initial 10 signatures required with Attorney General Martha Coakely’s office, a necessary first step in the long process of placing binding questions before the voters.

Twenty-five petitions were filed in all, some of which were simply varying versions of the same question designed to maximize the chance of qualifying legally for the ballot.

The proposals ranged from tax questions to an effort to make daylight savings time the year-round time of the Commonwealth and to guarantee commercial fishing techniques are safe for whales.

In addition to proposals to repeal a new computer services tax and the new law indexing the gas tax to inflation, activists filed proposals to add more types of beverages to the bottle redemption law, to make casino gambling illegal, and to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour.

Another proposal aims to ensure workers can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time. And nurses say patient safety is at the root of a push for staffing standards.

A petition was also filed to roll the sales tax back to 5 percent, and another to give companies that hire new employees a tax credit worth 5 percent of the new hire’s wages.

The software, gas and sales tax proposals all strike at the underpinnings of the recently enacted law transportation financing law intended to generate new revenue for public transit and infrastructure.

A 22-year-old recent college graduate filed two petitions to reduce the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax to 5 percent, and to give companies a tax credit for every new employee they hire.

Owen Becker, a Rowley resident, said he thinks lowering the sales tax will encourage people to shop in Massachusetts.

Becker said he sees people who live on the North Shore too often heading to New Hampshire to shop buying gas, coffee, and meals while they’re over the border.