Legalization of happy hours, fireworks among approved ballot questions
Voter ID, gig workers, higher zero emission vehicle rebates also move ahead
ATTORNEY GENERAL Maura Healey’s office allowed 17 proposed laws and constitutional amendments dealing with a wide variety of public policy issues to keep moving toward the ballot on Wednesday.
Assuming sponsors can gather 80,239 signatures, Massachusetts voters will be asked in 2022 to decide whether fireworks and turbocharged happy hours should be legalized. They will decide whether retailers should be able to hold more liquor licenses, whether much higher rebates on zero emission vehicles should be offered, and whether to prohibit taxes, fees, and other measures “that would reduce or restrict the supply” of motor fuels – a question filed by Republican Rep. David DeCoste of Norwell that appears to be targeted at blocking Gov. Charlie Baker’s transportation climate initiative.
Healey’s office also approved questions requiring voters to show government-issued photo IDs in order to vote, giving state officials the power to ban any fishing equipment that could entangle whales or sea turtles, and barring hospital CEOs from serving on boards or being paid by companies that sell medical services or pharmaceuticals.
Even though Healey is suing Uber and Lyft for failing to treat their workers as employees, her office approved a ballot question backed by those companies and others that would require the workers to be treated as independent contractors.
The question dealing with zero emission vehicle rebates would set them at $25,000 or half the price of the vehicle, whichever is lower. The current rebate is $2,500.
Healey’s office rejected 13 questions, including proposals limiting hospital profit margins, preserving the lives of children born alive, and assorted other odds and ends.
The question dealing with children born alive was filed by Bernadette Lyons, the wife of Jim Lyons, who heads the Massachusetts Republican Party. The question said if a child is born alive, “all reasonable steps, in keeping with good medical practice, shall be taken to preserve the life of the child born alive.” Healey’s office concluded the intent of the question was too vague. “We cannot determine with certainty what the proposed law means or would do,” the office said in its decision.