Ballot Referendums Gather Needed Signatures But Face Opposition

Supporters for three voter referendums say they’ve cleared a key hurdle to put their initiatives on the Massachusetts ballot in November. The groups must submit over 11,000 signatures to local election clerks by the end of the day on Wednesday.

Organizers with an anti-casino group and the state nurses’ union are both bragging that they’ve gathered over 25,000 signatures for each ballot question. The Massachusetts Nurses Association is sponsoring two initiatives, one to limit the ratio of patients to nurses, and another to increase transparency in hospital profits. David Schildmeier is the union’s spokesperson. He says nurses had an easy time collecting signatures.

“We think the voters have the most to lose if these issues fail, and we think they also understand the most to gain if they pass,” says Schildmeier.

Both initiatives are opposed by the state Hospital Association. Meanwhile, a group looking to repeal Massachusetts’ casino law faces uncertainty over whether a court challenge will allow the question on the ballot. Steve Abdow is heading the group in Western Massachusetts.

“We’re proceeding as if we will be on the ballot. We don’t have a choice. We have to get our campaign going,” says Abdow.
The state supreme judicial court is expected to rule on the referendum by early July. If it makes the ballot, casino companies have vowed to campaign against it.