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Three Questions on November Ballot

In addition to determining a number of elected offices during the November 6 state election, citizens will also decide the outcome of three questions on the ballot. Those questions concern patient to nurse limits, limiting election spending, and transgender anti-discrimination.

Question 1 is the patient to nurse limits, that aims to limit the number of patients that can be assigned to a registered nurse in Massachusetts hospitals and other health care facilities. Limits would be based on the type of care required. For example, for those nurses providing post-operative care or operating room care, one patient under anesthesia per nurse or two patients post anesthesia per nurse would be permitted. In those units providing pediatric, medical, surgical, telemetry or observational care, four patients per nurse would be allowed.

Proponents of the measure (a yes vote) feel with patient limits in place patients will receive better quality nursing care, while opponents (a no vote) feel the measure puts patient care and safety at risk by imposing government-regulated ratios and overrides the professional judgement of health care professionals.

Question 2 if passed would establish a 15-member citizen's commission whose members would be charged to research, take testimony and then issue a report concerning the impact of political spending to influence elections. The Commission could also advocate for amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizen's United, which prohibits the government from restricting spending by corporations and special interest groups during elections for communication purposes.

Opponents of Question 2 (a no vote) say if Citizen's United is eventually overturned, it interferes with the right to free speech to all entities and organizations. Proponents say its passage (a yes vote) will create a nonpartisan commission to research the impact of political spending and could be a step closer to overturning Citizen's United.

The third question concerns repealing a transgender state law which currently requires any public facility that has separate areas for males and females, such as restrooms, to allow access to and full use of those facilities consistent with a person's gender identity.

A yes vote on Question 3 will keep the law in place as is. Those who agree with that feel it prevents discrimination in public places like stores, restaurants and hospitals and protects transgender youth and adults. A no vote will repeal the current law in place. Those who feel it should be repealed argue the current law violates the privacy and safety of women by allowing any man identifying as a woman, which could include a sex offender, to share women's facilities.


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