Final results from non-binding public policy questions that were on the ballot in November reveal stunning landslides in favor of swift action on climate change and transparency reforms to the Massachusetts legislature.
The November election results for the state show 90% of voters supported making all votes in the state legislature’s committees publicly available on the State House website, and 80% supported swiftly moving Massachusetts to 100% renewable energy. The transparency question appeared on the ballot in 16 districts and the renewable energy question appeared in 19 districts. Both questions passed with supermajority support in every town.
350 Mass and Act On Mass organized the signature drive and promotion for these ballot questions. Both groups believe many important and popular policies, such as 100% renewable energy and the Safe Communities Act, are prevented from advancing because representatives hide behind the cover of secret committee votes in the legislature. The majority of states release these roll call votes publicly online. The 90% support for making committee votes public bodes well for a new campaign launched by Act on Mass to fight for more transparent legislative rules in January. The Transparency is Power campaign asks legislators to vote in favor of making legislative committee votes public, ensuring that legislation is public 72 hours before it’s voted on, and lowering the barrier for recording votes on the House floor. Justin Brown, a 350 Mass member and Brookline teacher said, “In talking with voters it was clear how much they cared about a clean future and more transparent government. Additionally, most seemed stunned to learn that committee votes were not required to be public.”
The renewable energy question proposes that the state legislature take immediate action for Massachusetts to achieve 100% renewable energy use within the next two decades. Stephen Malagodi, a Lowell resident who helped lead the renewable energy question campaign in his district, said that “We’ve been told over and over that ordinary people in Lowell don’t really care about combating climate change. Well, in the 16th Middlesex district 6,400 people, 71% of those who voted, said that they do care, and our elected representatives can’t tell us that anymore.”
The current climate legislation remains stuck in a conference committee, and advocates say there isn’t enough being done. “Even if the best provisions in the House & Senate versions [of the current climate bill] are adopted, this bill will not get Massachusetts to 100% renewable energy in the timeframe that the science demands. It’s vital that we continue to push for the solutions that have yet to be invested in by Governor Baker despite their successes in other states,” said Cabell Eames, Legislative Manager for 350 Mass. “You can’t tell people that there is power in their vote and then disregard the core issues they vote for. Once public officials are elected, they should be held accountable to the public.” With the ballot questions, 350 Mass and Act On Mass have aimed to send a message to the MA State House that representatives should be held accountable to the needs and desires of the public. From the results, it is clear that constituents agree.
These ballot questions appeared in the following districts:
- Dave Rogers (24th Middlesex) (Renewable Energy question only)
- Kenneth Gordon (21st Middlesex)
- Nika Elugardo (15th Suffolk)
- Marjorie Decker (25th Middlesex) (Renewable Energy question only)
- Tom Golden (16th Middlesex) (Renewable Energy question only)
- Mike Moran (18th Suffolk)
- Kevin Honan (17th Suffolk)
- Ruth Balser (12th Middlesex)
- Kay Khan (11th Middlesex)
- Mindy Domb (3rd Hampshire)
- Paul McMurtry (11th Norfolk)
- Dan Carey (2nd Hampshire)
- Robert Deleo (19th Suffolk)
- Jonathan Hecht/Steve Owens (29th Middlesex)
- Denise Provost/ Erika Uyterhoeven (27th Middlesex)
- Tommy Vitolo (15th Norfolk)
- Elizabeth Malia (11th Suffolk)
- Ann Margaret Ferrante (5th Essex)
- Natalie Blais (1st Franklin)
The full text of the 100% renewable energy question read:
Shall the representative for this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would require Massachusetts to achieve 100% renewable energy use within the next two decades, starting immediately and making significant progress within the first five years while protecting impacted workers and businesses?
The full text of the transparency question read:
Shall the representative for this district be instructed to vote in favor of changes to the Legislature's rules that would make the results of all votes in Legislative committees publicly available on the Legislature's website?