By Alison Cedarbaum, Legislative Intern
The Massachusetts 2022 General Election on November 8th, and the early voting period beginning on October 22nd, are steadily approaching. Aside from the congressional midterm elections and several state and local leaders up for election, Massachusetts voters will also find four referendum questions on their ballots. MAPA endorses Questions 1 and 4 as they are of particular importance to the peace and justice movement.
Question 1: Fair Share
The Fair Share amendment, if passed, would amend the state Constitution to impose an additional 4% tax on that portion of incomes over one million dollars. The state must use the new income solely for education and transportation. It would strengthen support for some of the most important sectors of society, and also ensure that the wealthy are paying their “fair share” to make life in Massachusetts better for every one of us.
Massachusetts Peace Action has long been a member of Raise Up Massachusetts – a progressive coalition fighting for a fairer economy – and has worked since 2013 to make the Fair Share Amendment a reality. In 2019 and 2021, the state legislature overwhelmingly voted to approve the amendment, with a vote of 159 ayes and 41 nays. Now, the amendment’s future is in the hands of the people of Massachusetts.
With this constitutional amendment, $2 billion more in funds per year could be put towards transportation and public education systems. What does this mean for the people and families of Massachusetts? It means that 99% of the population will not need to pay a penny more, but all will equally benefit from the revenue collected from millionaires. It means that dangerous and neglected transportation infrastructure could be improved for the sake of public safety and transportation efficiency. It means that Massachusetts would begin expanding the use of public transportation, electric vehicles, and electric charging stations, cutting down on one of the greatest contributors to the climate crisis. It means that public schools can do their jobs to help children thrive as families recover from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Ultimately, it means that Massachusetts will become a fairer, safer, state that serves its population better.
We can’t promote global peace without starting at home: by voting yes on question 1 and supporting Fair Share, you can make sure that Massachusetts invests in what really matters!
Question 4: Safe Roads
Ballot question 4 enables Massachusetts residents to obtain a driver’s license without proof of citizenship or legal migration to the United States. While this is a Massachusetts issue, migration is a critical issue for the international peace movement. It is indisputable that war is a driving factor of migration and creates refugees. As the United States has – and continues to – fund, arm, and promote war, conflict, and sanctions, we not only force more migrants to flee their homes, but misuse our resources that we could instead be using to peacefully support them. Until we end the interventionist wars and the migration they cause, migrants deserve safety, humane treatment, and the protection of their rights in the wealthy country that, in many cases, contributed to their displacement in the first place.
By voting Yes on 4, you will vote to uphold a law, known as the The Work and Family Mobility Act, that protects the rights of migrants and the physical safety of all those on the road in Massachusetts. Overwhelmingly approved by the legislature in June and then again passed by the legislature over Gov. Baker’s veto , this common-sense measure allows all qualified state residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a standard Massachusetts state driver’s license beginning July 1, 2023.
The bill puts in place stringent proof of identity requirements for immigrants without status applying for licenses, and keeps in place all safeguards against non-citizen voting. The law, which models similar acts in 16 other states, is widely regarded as safe, feasible, and appeals to groups and individuals of all political perspectives. A coalition of 270 law enforcement, public health, community leaders, and immigrants-rights groups have come together to support this effort. Nevertheless, by resorting often to false and duplicitous claims, opponents gathered enough signatures this summer to put Question 4 on the ballot in an attempt to overturn the signed law.
It is vital that the Work and Family Mobility Act be upheld, despite the fear-based claims of its opposition. Having access to a driver’s license will allow migrants without status to drive their children to school, go to work, or visit the doctor; it is not a matter of convenience, but of necessity. Everyone on Massachusetts roads will be safer if this measure is adopted – attested to by law enforcement and police chiefs who have backed the bill since its introduction – by preventing hit-and-runs and limiting uninsured driving. This is a public safety bill; but, because it provides benefits to immigrants, our opposition has launched a generalized anti-immigration campaign. A vote YES on 4 stands up for the protection of rights and public safety alike on the state level, promoting key values of the peace movement.
Beyond voting yes on Questions 1 and 4, we encourage our MAPA network to support the efforts in favor of these measures however they can! Sign up to volunteer with Raise Up Mass (Fair Share) or Safer Roads MA (Driver’s Licenses) to fight for a more just Massachusetts.