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November 17, 2013

Mass. ballot question supporters facing deadline

BOSTON (AP) — A key deadline is approaching for supporters of proposed questions for the 2014 Massachusetts ballot.

Backers are working to collect at least 68,911 signatures around the state to allow the initiative petitions to remain alive. Those signatures must be presented to city and town clerks by Wednesday so they can be certified in time to be submitted to the Secretary of State William Galvin’s office by a Dec. 4 deadline.

Galvin said it appeared that a proposed ballot question that would update the state’s beverage deposit law to include bottled water and other non-carbonated drinks would have enough signatures to move forward.

Supporters of measures calling for a higher minimum wage, a statewide policy for earned sick time and limits on excessive hospital operating margins also were close to obtaining the necessary signatures, Galvin said.

Opponents of casino gambling are gathering signatures for a question that would repeal the state’s 2011 casino law, but may need help from the courts since Attorney General Martha Coakley has ruled the question would violate a constitutional provision against the taking of personal property.

Petitions with enough certified signatures would then go the Legislature. If lawmakers do not act on them by May, supporters must then collect an additional 11,485 signatures to have them placed on the November ballot.

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