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In a Hub interview, Dr. Adam Silver of the Political Science Department explained what a “yes” or a “no” vote would mean for the four Massachusetts ballot questions and offered his own opinions on several.
Question 1 is fairly straightforward. As of now, Massachusetts is allowed only one slots parlor, which is located in Plainville, MA.
A “yes” on Question 1 would allow the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to open a second slots parlor. It would be located near Suffolk Downs in Revere, the inhabitants of which would have the final decision of whether the parlor should be opened, even should the question pass.
A “no” vote on Question 1 would simply indicate a desire for the cap of 1 slots parlor in the state of Massachusetts to remain in place.
Question 2 involves charter school expansion.
A “yes” vote would allow Massachusetts to raise the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, but granting up to 12 new charters each year.
A “no” vote would keep the charter schools at the current cap of 120. Silver said voters should consider the question, “What do you feel about charter schools in relation to regular public schools?”
Silver is personally not in favor of charter schools. This opinion comes from his experience with working with the New York state legislature on education policy.
“There are really good charter schools just like there are really good public schools,” he said. Silver believes “we have public schools for a reason,” and we should “enhance that education.”
Silver acknowledges that charter schools may have good intent, but problems with “tiered education” may also arise from them. Silver said that he believes charter schools divert us from “tackling the real problem,” which would be to work on improving all Massachusetts education.
Question 3 is about animal confinement.
A “yes” vote would ban the Massachusetts sale and production of produce coming from animals that are prevented from lying, standing, or moving freely. The potential ban focuses on the requirement of cage free eggs, and would prohibit the use of gestation crates for pigs.
If passed, the ban will be fully in place by 2022.
Silver said there would be an insignificant rise in the price of eggs, perhaps as low as a penny. He said of the potential ban, “It’s the least we can do.”
A “yes” vote on Question 4 would legalize marijuana in the state of Massachusetts. Its distribution, cultivation, and use would only be legal for adults 21 and older. The State Commission would regulate the tax on the marijuana industry.
Silver said that there are pros and cons to both sides of the question. States such as Colorado and Washington have generated a high amount of tax revenue through the legalization of marijuana, but may be facing concerns about the effects of the law.
“Marijuana possessions adversely targets men of color, and puts them through the criminal justice system at a rate much higher than white men,” said Silver. He noted that once a person gets into the system, it is difficult to get out. Marijuana’s legalization may be able to assist in diminishing such adversity.
Silver suggested visiting the Boston Globe website for further explanation and analysis of the Massachusetts ballot questions.
Haley Biermann ’19 is a Staff Writer for The Hub. She can be contacted at email@example.com.