Massachusetts voters could be asked next fall to decide if they should show ID at the polls, restore happy hour alcohol discounts and consider gig economy workers independent, as the list of potential 2022 ballot questions narrowed Tuesday.
Attorney General Maura Healey, who evaluated the legality of 31 initiative petitions supporters hoped to see on the Nov. 2022 ballot, removed 14 petitions from contention for not meeting constitutional muster. She approved the remaining 17.
Those 17 petitions now have to deliver another set of supporter signatures to guarantee a slot on the ballot. One is a measure backed by conservatives to require photographic identification when voting.
Rideshare and third-party delivery service drivers would be legally considered independent contractors under another approved petition backed by major service providers like Uber and Lyft. It's similar to a petition that passed in California last year. The measure would enshrine new benefits like paid sick time and medical leave for gig workers, such as ride-hail drivers, delivery people, Insta Cart shopers, and a host of food deliverers.
“Happy hour” drink discounts, which have been banned in Massachusetts since the 1980s, would make a return if another of the approved measures is affirmed by voters. The petition would allow bars and restaurants to set limited time discounts for alcoholic drinks. Another petition approved by Healey would expand the number of locations convenience stores and larger retailers could offer alcohol sales, bringing beer and wine sales to more retail locations.
Supporters of each approved petition now have until June 2022 to submit an additional 13,374 certified signatures to move the process forward. Lawmakers have a chance to act on any of the proposed measures before then, which would result in a new law circumventing the petition process.
Other approved measures include questions about a right to legal counsel in eviction proceedings, preventing the state from entering a multi-state carbon emissions pact, making election day a legal holiday, legalizing fireworks, limiting hospital profits, creating incentives for efficient homes and vehicles, considering first responders a protected class under hate crime laws and letting state officials regulate whale-safe fishing equipment.
The petitions Healey rejected include proposals to ban smoking in multi-unit housing, require medical care for children who survive abortion, require hand-counting of ballots, ban any school curricula that makes a student feel guilty about U.S. history and make it a felony to target someone's social media posts in order to get them fired from a job.