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Massachusetts November Ballot Questions

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Real World, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. Real World

    Real World Moderator Staff Member

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    QUESTION 1: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition

    Sales Tax on Alcoholic Beverages
    Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives before May 4, 2010?

    SUMMARY
    This proposed law would remove the Massachusetts sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol, where the sale of such beverages and alcohol or their importation into the state is already subject to a separate excise tax under state law. The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2011.

    A YES VOTE would remove the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol where their sale or importation into the state is subject to an excise tax under state law.

    A NO VOTE would make no change in the state sales tax on alcoholic beverages and alcohol.


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    QUESTION 2: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition

    Comprehensive Permits for Low- or Moderate- Income Housing
    Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives before May 4, 2010?

    SUMMARY
    This proposed law would repeal an existing state law that allows a qualified organization wishing to build government-subsidized housing that includes low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit from a city or town’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA), instead of separate permits from each local agency or official having jurisdiction over any aspect of the proposed housing. The repeal would take effect on January 1, 2011, but would not stop or otherwise affect any proposed housing that had already received both a comprehensive permit and a building permit for at least one unit.

    Under the existing law, the ZBA holds a public hearing on the application and considers the recommendations of local agencies and officials. The ZBA may grant a comprehensive permit that may include conditions or requirements concerning the height, site plan, size, shape, or building materials of the housing. Persons aggrieved by the ZBA’s decision to grant a permit may appeal it to a court. If the ZBA denies the permit or grants it with conditions or requirements that make the housing uneconomic to build or to operate, the applicant may appeal to the state Housing Appeals Committee (HAC).

    After a hearing, if the HAC rules that the ZBA’s denial of a comprehensive permit was unreasonable and not consistent with local needs, the HAC orders the ZBA to issue the permit. If the HAC rules that the ZBA’s decision issuing a comprehensive permit with conditions or requirements made the housing uneconomic to build or operate and was not consistent with local needs, the HAC orders the ZBA to modify or remove any such condition or requirement so as to make the proposal no longer uneconomic. The HAC cannot order the ZBA to issue any permit that would allow the housing to fall below minimum safety standards or site plan requirements. If the HAC rules that the ZBA’s action was consistent with local needs, the HAC must uphold it even if it made the housing uneconomic. The HAC’s decision is subject to review in the courts.

    A condition or requirement makes housing “uneconomic” if it would prevent a public agency or non-profit organization from building or operating the housing except at a financial loss, or it would prevent a limited dividend organization from building or operating the housing without a reasonable return on its investment.

    A ZBA’s decision is “consistent with local needs” if it applies requirements that are reasonable in view of the regional need for low- and moderate-income housing and the number of low-income persons in the city or town, as well as the need to protect health and safety, promote better site and building design, and preserve open space, if those requirements are applied as equally as possible to both subsidized and unsubsidized housing. Requirements are considered “consistent with local needs” if more than 10% of the city or town’s housing units are low- or moderate-income units or if such units are on sites making up at least 1.5% of the total private land zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use in the city or town. Requirements are also considered “consistent with local needs” if the application would result, in any one calendar year, in beginning construction of low- or moderate-income housing on sites making up more than 0.3% of the total private land zoned for residential, commercial, or industrial use in the city or town, or on ten acres, whichever is larger.

    The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.

    A YES VOTE would repeal the state law allowing the issuance of a single comprehensive permit to build housing that includes low- or moderate-income units.

    A NO VOTE would make no change in the state law allowing issuance of such a comprehensive permit.


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    QUESTION 3: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition

    Sales and Use Tax Rates
    Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives before May 4, 2010?

    SUMMARY
    This proposed law would reduce the state sales and use tax rates (which were 6.25% as of September 2009) to 3% as of January 1, 2011. It would make the same reduction in the rate used to determine the amount to be deposited with the state Commissioner of Revenue by non-resident building contractors as security for the payment of sales and use tax on tangible personal property used in carrying out their contracts.

    The proposed law provides that if the 3% rates would not produce enough revenues to satisfy any lawful pledge of sales and use tax revenues in connection with any bond, note, or other contractual obligation, then the rates would instead be reduced to the lowest level allowed by law.

    The proposed law would not affect the collection of moneys due the Commonwealth for sales, storage, use or other consumption of tangible personal property or services occurring before January 1, 2011.

    The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect.

    A YES VOTE would reduce the state sales and use tax rates to 3%.

    A NO VOTE would make no change in the state sales and use tax rates.


    Elections: 2010 Statewide Ballot Questions
  2. khayos

    khayos Rookie

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    Yes, yes and yes.
  3. Real World

    Real World Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm a Yes on Question #1 & #3. I've got to do a little more research on Question #2.
  4. Real World

    Real World Moderator Staff Member

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    Question 2 is deals with what I thought it might, and that is Chapter 40B. I'm a yes on question 2 as well. Local cities and towns should not be trumped by the state, when it comes to what is built inside their city limits. Chapter 40B allows developers to side step local boards, by filing for a singular permit. I think cities and towns should have the ultimate say.
  5. efin98

    efin98 Rookie

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    It's not just the state forcing it, it also removes most of the local hurdles...most of the road blocks are removed so people opposed can't strong-arm the zoning boards into denying projects that they simply don't like.
  6. Real World

    Real World Moderator Staff Member

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    It patently strips the locals, be it the people that actually reside in the city/town, or the people who run it, from determining whether or not a project will be built inside it's limits. The state should never tell a city/town what will be built inside it's city limits. Chapter 40B does that. It happened in Lynnfield just a couple of years ago, and despite many legal attempts to reverse the state order, the town was powerless. I think that's just absurd. If the people of say Winthrop, or North Adams, don't want a 120 unit complex built inside it's borders, it shouldn't be. The state should have ZERO authority to impose it on the residents of those specific communities. From what I've been told, and have read about Chapter 40B, that's exactly what it does. Question 2 would repeal Chapter 40B, and return the process back to the locals.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
  7. wistahpatsfan

    wistahpatsfan Rookie

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  8. efin98

    efin98 Rookie

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    Conversely there are dozens of local groups and private citizens using every loophole they can find to hide behind the current laws to block projects from getting done because the vocal minority with a stake in it not getting done for their own benefits blocking them.

    It isn't just the state that is doing it, you are targeting them when you should also be complaining about the local actions that use the current bureaucracy to kill projects that the people actually want and need but can't get done because the right palms aren't greased, the right people aren't paid off, the right politicians aren't approving.
  9. Real World

    Real World Moderator Staff Member

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    Ef, I deal with city government all the time. Every city has different ordiances, codes, permit requirements, etc. If you're looking for a perfect system, there isn't one anywhere. This issue comes down to one question though. Would you prefer to have the local government (City of Revere persay) be the people who decide what is built, and what isn't, inside it's limits, or would you prefer some state run board that has no clue where Revere even is? Local officials tend to live in the community, and can more easily be held accountable when decisisons are made. They have much more of an obligation to do what the people want, or don't want, than does some board of hand picked beurocrats from the state do. You can vote out an alderman, councilman, mayor, etc. You're not voting out a member of the state board. As for corruption, and greased palms, that's 100x worse at the state level. It comes down to accountability, and the state honchos don't have a relationship with these cities they are imposing their will on, so who holds them to the fire? No one. Once a project is approved, and the cash has changed hands, it's history. At the local level the cash may change hands, but so will the position held, the next time the election comes around. This doesn't even get into the rules regarding variance, abuttors, etc. The state doesn't care what the neighbors want. A city has to. Locals should always determine what is built inside their community.
  10. taltos

    taltos Rookie

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    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
  11. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Question 1 yes.

    Question 2 no. The question will do nothing but discourage investment in and increase the public cost of low- to middle income housing by increasing the bureaucracy that investors will have to engage in order to get the necessary permits and approvals. Add to the fact that other agencies get even less attention than zoning boards, and you have a recipe for even more corruption. I don't understand why some conservatives are embracing this? Did someone tell them that this law would reduce eminent domain or something? Who?

    Question 3 no. We live in by many measures one of the best states in the nation -- in terms of hospitals, schools, culture, history, safety, and so on. It's well worth the taxes we pay.
  12. efin98

    efin98 Rookie

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    No crap they are all different, that isn't the point I was getting at.

    That isn't the question at all though. You are missing the other half of removing the hurdles that are put up by these same people.

    Conversely they are also apt to using a project for their own personal gain or the gain of those who support them- up to and including killing a project so that people may profit from another project that they support.

    Maybe, but then there are the cases of the politicians who are popular enough to get elected regardless of how dirty they are with building projects.

    That is your experience. Mine is the other way around. We agree on the question and on the result but not on the target nor on the premise. Let's leave it at agreeing on support if not in full.
  13. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    What are you talking about? What you posted states this:

    "This proposed law would repeal an existing state law that allows a qualified organization wishing to build government-subsidized housing that includes low- or moderate-income units to apply for a single comprehensive permit from a city or town’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA), instead of separate permits from each local agency or official having jurisdiction over any aspect of the proposed housing. "

    To me it sounds like the change would give far more power to all sorts of agencies and officials. Since I presume you read what you posted, can you explain to me what I'm missing?
  14. efin98

    efin98 Rookie

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    His complaint is with this part:
  15. efin98

    efin98 Rookie

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    You didn't read the text of the ballot question, did you? :rolleyes:

    In other words, it takes out the hurdles against building public and non-profit housing by removing the sidestepping.

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