The Massachusetts Secretary of State reported on July 7 that two ballot initiatives had filed a second round of signatures on July 6.
One initiative would incrementally change the number of retail alcohol licenses an establishment could own from no more than 12 in 2023 to no more than 18 by 2031. It would also prohibit in-store automated and self-checkout sales of alcohol. The initiative is sponsored by the Massachusetts Package Stores Association.
The other proposal would set the medical loss ratio for dental plans at 83% and require the insurer to refund the excess premium to its covered individuals and covered groups. The Committee on Dental Insurance Quality is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. Daisy Kumar, a registered nurse and founding member of the ballot question committee, said, “We do not expect dental insurance companies to waste our premiums by overpaying officers, having giant, wasteful commissions, sneaking payments to affiliates or gifts to parent companies that just add another layer of waste. Our insurance payments are not meant to be gifts to dental insurance companies. They are meant to help families like mine and yours.” The Committee to Protect Access to Quality Dental Care, which opposes the measure, said, “The proponents of this ballot question are not being straight with the voters. What they aren’t telling you is that their anti-consumer proposal will increase costs for Massachusetts families and employers… and can result in thousands of residents being denied access to much-needed dental care.”
The process for initiating state statutes in Massachusetts is indirect, which means the legislature has a chance to approve initiatives with successful petitions directly without the measure going to the voters. The first round of signatures equal to 3% of the votes cast for governor is required to put an initiative before the legislature. The second round of signatures equal to 0.5% of the votes cast for governor in the last election is required to put the measure on the ballot if the legislature rejects or declines to act on a proposed initiated statute.
Both initiatives submitted the required 3% of signatures in December 2021 and were presented to the state legislature in early 2022. Since the state legislature did not act on the initiatives by May 4, the initiatives were cleared to gather a second round of 13,374 signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
A spokesperson for the secretary of state said it would take about a week for the signatures to be processed.
Between 2010 and 2020, an average of 29 ballot initiatives were filed for each election cycle in Massachusetts, with an average of three making the ballot. For 2022, 20 ballot initiatives were filed, including one veto referendum.