The 2022 Ballot Questions

Every two years, Massachusetts voters may be called upon to vote whether or not to enact new laws, amend the Constitution, or repeal recently passed laws through ballot questions. Ballot questions have been around since the formation of the Commonwealth, but the process for allowing citizens to initiate laws, amendments, and repeals has only been in effect for the past 100 years.

In 2022, four questions are on the State Election ballot as a result of two citizen-initiated petitions for new laws, a citizen-initiated petition to repeal an existing law, and a legislature-initiated petition for a constitutional amendment.

Summary of Questions 1-4 from Secretary of the Commonwealth

See all four questions.

Printed Red Booklet (Questions 1-3)

Each election year, the Secretary of the Commonwealth creates the familiar “Information for Voters.” The red booklet is sent to the homes of all registered voters, and the focus is on the ballot questions. The booklet also includes information on voting. The sections of the Information for Voters are posted on the Secretary’s website.

Question 4 is not in the printed Red Booklet. Link to it here.

The red booklet was printed prior to the certification of Question 4, so the printed version does not include that question. Information on Question 4 is available on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

LWVMA Ballot Question Forums

Register for the forums at the LWVMA website.

Ballot Question #1 (Additional Tax on Income Over One Million Dollars)

  • Lead Organizer:  LWV Boston
  • October 13, 6:45 p.m.  Register here

Ballot Question #2 (Regulation of Dental Insurance) & Ballot Question #3 (Expanded Availability of Licenses for the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages)

  • Lead Organizers:  LWV Sharon-Stoughton; LWV Needham; LWV Salem; LWV Andover-N. Andover; LWV Newton
  • October 17, 7:30 p.m.  Register here

For Ballot Question #4, LWVMA and the Transportation for Massachusetts coalition (T4MA) are organizing an advocacy forum for Yes on 4. The panel discussion entitled “Safer Roads for a Stronger Commonwealth” will take place October 12, 4:00 p.m.  Register here. LWVMA supports a YES vote on Question 4.

Additional Resources for Ballot Questions

QUESTION 1: Proposed Amendment to the Constitution
Additional Tax on Income Over One Million Dollars

SUMMARY

This proposed constitutional amendment would establish an additional 4% state income tax on that portion of annual taxable income in excess of $1 million. This income level would be adjusted annually, by the same method used for federal income-tax brackets, to reflect increases in the cost of living. Revenues from this tax would be used, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature, for public education, public colleges and universities; and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation. The proposed amendment would apply to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2023.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would amend the state Constitution to impose an additional 4% tax on that portion of incomes over one million dollars to be used, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature, on education and transportation.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the state Constitution relative to income tax.

See full text of proposed amendment

STATEMENT OF FISCAL CONSEQUENCES

As required by law, statements of fiscal consequences are written by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

The proposal increases the marginal tax rate on certain individual taxpayers by 80%. This change may increase annual state revenues by $1.2 billion in the near term, which is approximately 2.4% of the current annual state budget. However, annual revenue generated by the surtax will vary significantly and unpredictably from year to year. Additionally, numerous unpredictable factors could significantly alter the impact this proposal may have on state and municipal finances. For instance, taxpayers may decide to relocate their home or business to another state or adjust their filing status or timing of income realization to minimize their tax burden.

ORGANIZATIONS FOR AND AGAINST

IN FAVOR: Fair Share Massachusetts
FairShareMA.com

AGAINST: Coalition To Stop The Tax Hike Amendment
www.NoQuestion1.com

LWVMA STAND ON QUESTION 1: No stand for or against

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

Tufts University Center for State Policy Analysis: “Risks and Benefits of a Millionaires Tax”

QUESTION 2: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition
Regulation of Dental Insurance

SUMMARY

This proposed law would direct the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance to approve or disapprove the rates of dental benefit plans and would require that a dental insurance carrier meet an annual aggregate medical loss ratio for its covered dental benefit plans of 83 percent. The medical loss ratio would measure the amount of premium dollars a dental insurance carrier spends on its members’ dental expenses and quality improvements, as opposed to administrative expenses. If a carrier’s annual aggregate medical loss ratio is less than 83 percent, the carrier would be required to refund the excess premiums to its covered individuals and groups. The proposed law would allow the Commissioner to waive or adjust the refunds only if it is determined that issuing refunds would result in financial impairment for the carrier.

The proposed law would apply to dental benefit plans regardless of whether they are issued directly by a carrier, through the connector, or through an intermediary. The proposed law would not apply to dental benefit plans issued, delivered, or renewed to a self-insured group or where the carrier is acting as a third-party administrator.

The proposed law would require the carriers offering dental benefit plans to submit information about their current and projected medical loss ratio, administrative expenses, and other financial information to the Commissioner. Each carrier would be required to submit an annual comprehensive financial statement to the Division of Insurance, itemized by market group size and line of business. A carrier that also provides administrative services to one or more self-insured groups would also be required to file an appendix to their annual financial statement with information about its self-insured business. The proposed law would impose a late penalty on a carrier that does not file its annual report on or before April 1.

The Division would be required to make the submitted data public, to issue an annual summary to certain legislative committees, and to exchange the data with the Health Policy Commission. The Commissioner would be required to adopt standards requiring the registration of persons or entities not otherwise licensed or registered by the Commissioner and criteria for the standardized reporting and uniform allocation methodologies among carriers.

The proposed law would allow the Commissioner to approve dental benefit policies for the purpose of being offered to individuals or groups. The Commissioner would be required to adopt regulations to determine eligibility criteria.

The proposed law would require carriers to file group product base rates and any changes to group rating factors that are to be effective on January 1 of each year on or before July 1 of the preceding year. The Commissioner would be required to disapprove any proposed changes to base rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unreasonable in relation to the benefits charged. The Commissioner would also be required to disapprove any change to group rating factors that is discriminatory or not actuarially sound.

The proposed law sets forth criteria that, if met, would require the Commissioner to presumptively disapprove a carrier’s rate, including if the aggregate medical loss ratio for all dental benefit plans offered by a carrier is less than 83 percent.

The proposed law would establish procedures to be followed if a proposed rate is presumptively disapproved or if the Commissioner disapproves a rate.

The proposed law would require the Division to hold a hearing if a carrier reports a risk-based capital ratio on a combined entity basis that exceeds 700 percent in its annual report.

The proposed law would require the Commissioner to promulgate regulations consistent with its provisions by October 1, 2023. The proposed law would apply to all dental benefit plans issued, made effective, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2024.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would regulate dental insurance rates, including by requiring companies to spend at least 83% of premiums on member dental expenses and quality improvements instead of administrative expenses, and by making other changes to dental insurance regulations.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the law relative to the regulations that apply to dental insurance companies.

See full text of proposed law

STATEMENT OF FISCAL CONSEQUENCES

As required by law, statements of fiscal consequences are written by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

The proposed measure has no discernible material fiscal consequences for state and municipal government finance.

ORGANIZATIONS FOR AND AGAINST

IN FAVOR: The Committee on Dental Insurance Quality
www.fairdentalinsurance.org

AGAINST: Committee To Protect Public Access To Quality Dental Care
Protectmydentalcare.com

LWVMA STAND ON QUESTION 2: No stand for or against

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

Tufts University Center for State Policy Analysis: “Question 2: New Rules for Dental Insurance”

QUESTION 3: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition
Expanded Availability of Licenses for the Sale of Alcoholic Beverage

SUMMARY

This proposed law would increase the statewide limits on the combined number of licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption (including licenses for “all alcoholic beverages” and for “wines and malt beverages”) that any one retailer could own or control: from 9 to 12 licenses in 2023; to 15 licenses in 2027; and to 18 licenses in 2031.

Beginning in 2023, the proposed law would set a maximum number of “all alcoholic beverages” licenses that any one retailer could own or control at 7 licenses unless a retailer currently holds more than 7 such licenses.

The proposed law would require retailers to conduct the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption through face-to-face transactions and would prohibit automated or self-checkout sales of alcoholic beverages by such retailers.

The proposed law would alter the calculation of the fine that the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission may accept in lieu of suspending any license issued under the State Liquor Control Act. The proposed law would modify the formula for calculating such fee from being based on the gross profits on the sale of alcoholic beverages to being based on the gross profits on all retail sales.

The proposed law would also add out-of-state motor vehicle licenses to the list of the forms of identification that any holder of a license issued under the State Liquor Control Act, or their agent or employee, may choose to reasonably rely on for proof of a person’s identity and age.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would increase the number of licenses a retailer could have for the sale of alcoholic beverages to be consumed off premises, limit the number of “all-alcoholic beverages” licenses that a retailer could acquire, restrict use of self-checkout, and require retailers to accept customers’ out-of-state identification.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws governing the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.

See full text of proposed law

STATEMENT OF FISCAL CONSEQUENCES

As required by law, statements of fiscal consequences are written by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

The proposed measure has no discernible material fiscal consequences for state and municipal government finance.

ORGANIZATIONS FOR AND AGAINST

IN FAVOR: Food Stores for Consumer Choice
www.FoodStoresMA.org

AGAINST: 21st Century Alcohol Retail Reform Committee
www.Masspack.org

LWVMA STAND ON QUESTION 3: No stand for or against

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

Tufts University Center for State Policy Analysis: How Ballot Question 3 would affect alcohol sales in Massachusetts

QUESTION 4:
Eligibility for Driver’s Licenses

On September 9, 2022, the Elections Division certified that a referendum petition for a ballot question that was submitted on September 7, 2022 had been signed by enough registered voters to qualify for placement on the November 8, 2022 State Election Ballot.

Because this petition was submitted after the July 2022 deadline for inclusion in the printed Information for Voters booklet that is mailed to each household, this question is not listed in that voter guide. The question will, however, be listed on each November 8 State Election ballot as Question #4.

QUESTION

Do you approve of a law summarized below, which was approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate on May 26, 2022?

SUMMARY

This law allows Massachusetts residents who cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States to obtain a standard driver’s license or learner’s permit if they meet all the other qualifications for a standard license or learner’s permit, including a road test and insurance, and provide proof of their identity, date of birth, and residency. The law provides that, when processing an application for such a license or learner’s permit or motor vehicle registration, the registrar of motor vehicles may not ask about or create a record of the citizenship or immigration status of the applicant, except as otherwise required by law. This law does not allow people who cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States to obtain a REAL ID.

To prove identity and date of birth, the law requires an applicant to present at least two documents, one from each of the following categories: (1) a valid unexpired foreign passport or a valid unexpired Consular Identification document; and (2) a valid unexpired driver’s license from any United States state or territory, an original or certified copy of a birth certificate, a valid unexpired foreign national identification card, a valid unexpired foreign driver’s license, or a marriage certificate or divorce decree issued by any state or territory of the United States. One of the documents presented by an applicant must include a photograph and one must include a date of birth. Any documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. The registrar may review any documents issued by another country to determine whether they may be used as proof of identity or date of birth.

The law requires that applicants for a driver’s license or learner’s permit shall attest, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that their license has not been suspended or revoked in any other state, country, or jurisdiction.

The law specifies that information provided by or relating to any applicant or license-holder will not be a public record and shall not be disclosed, except as required by federal law or as authorized by Attorney General regulations, and except for purposes of motor vehicle insurance.

The law directs the registrar of motor vehicles to make regulations regarding the documents required of United States citizens and others who provide proof of lawful presence with their license application.

The law also requires the registrar and the Secretary of the Commonwealth to establish procedures and regulations to ensure that an applicant for a standard driver’s license or learner’s permit who does not provide proof of lawful presence will not be automatically registered to vote.

The law takes effect on July 1, 2023.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would keep in place the law, which would allow Massachusetts residents who cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States to obtain a driver’s license or permit if they meet the other requirements for doing so.

A NO VOTE would repeal this law.

See full text of existing law

ORGANIZATIONS FOR AND AGAINST

IN FAVOR OF KEEPING THE LAW: Yes on 4 for Safer Roads
Saferroadsma.com

AGAINST KEEPING THE LAW: Fair and Secure Massachusetts
FairandSecureMA.com

LWVMA STAND ON QUESTION 4: In favor of keeping the law (yes vote)

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

These will be added as they become available.