The question order has been set for the fall ballot
Get ready to hear a lot about Question 1.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin announced Monday what numbers each of the three questions appearing on the statewide November ballot will be assigned.
If voters approve Question 1, it would limit how many patients could be assigned to each registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and certain other health care facilities.
Analysts expect an expensive fight over the question on the TV airwaves between a powerful Massachusetts nurses union and the hospital industry.
Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care, which is backed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, affirmed that the group would be spending money to deliver its message to voters.
She said the ballot group is advocating “for stronger patient outcomes, and consistency and accountability in our hospitals.”
Dan Cence, a spokesman for the Coalition to Protect Patient Safety, which is backed by the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, said the ballot group looks “forward to educating voters . . . on the need to ensure patient safety by leaving the real-time staffing decisions to the clinical experts—the nurses delivering the day-to-day care, and not the government.”
Ads related to initiative petitions usually end with an admonition — sometimes an ominous one — to vote yes or no on the question number.
For example, in 2016, opponents of the effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use painted a dystopian picture of what Massachusetts would look like with legal weed. That spot ended with a call to action: “Vote no on 4!”
Question 2 will likely be a lot more quiet. If Massachusetts voters approve it, it would create a commission to consider and recommend potential amendments to the United States Constitution to establish that corporations do not have the same Constitutional rights as human beings and that campaign contributions and expenditures may be regulated.
That’s part of a national effort to undo the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision, which allowed for unlimited spending on elections by corporations and labor unions, including supporting and opposing candidates.
Question 3 would dismantle Massachusetts’ transgender anti-discrimination law. That statute allows people to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity and protects transgender people from discrimination in barber shops, malls, restaurants, and other public accommodations.
The bathroom provision raised sharp concern from opponents who gathered the signatures to roll back the law. They’ve asserted that male sexual predators, under the guise of being transgender women, could enter women’s restrooms and locker rooms.
Proponents of the bill say worries about the law are totally unfounded and have not been borne out by Massachusetts’ experience, nor what has transpired in the 18 other states and the District of Columbia that have had similar protections in place for years.
According to Galvin’s office, a “yes” vote on Question 3 would keep in place the current law, while a “no” vote would repeal the law.
It’s unclear whether opponents of the transgender protections have access to sufficient money to air television ads.
A spokeswoman for the ballot committee, Keep Massachusetts Safe, did not directly answer a question about if the group plans to spend money on TV ads. But Yvette Ollada said in an e-mail, “We are going to work really hard to make sure voters are aware of the abuses of the law and how dangerous it is and why voters need to vote ‘no’ to make sure it is repealed.”
A broad coalition is advocating to keep the law, signed by Governor Charlie Baker in 2016, in place. Matt Wilder, a spokesman for that group, Freedom for All Massachusetts, said keeping the law in place is critical for Massachusetts.
Asked whether it would spend money, Wilder said, “We will definitely be pretty aggressive” in getting the message out. The group already released a campaign video.