The slate of 2024 ballot questions in Mass. is taking shape. Here's a (very) early look

A "Yes on Question 2" sign in Newton in 2016. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A "Yes on Question 2" sign in Newton in 2016. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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In recent years, Massachusetts voters have directly decided on some of the state’s biggest policy questions: Marijuana legalization; charter schools; taxing the rich; even the type of eggs at your grocery store.

They’ve also weighed in on more obscure subjects, like how dental insurers spend their money or the state’s bottle deposit law.

The 2024 ballot could offer a mix of both.

Wednesday marked the first deadline in the 2024 ballot initiative process, offering a glimpse at what questions could be put to voters next fall. Attorney General Andrea Campbell has about a month to decide which ones meet constitutional muster to move forward.

Here’s an early look at the contenders in this special newsletter:

The big ones

Gig workers: Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart are taking another crack at a ballot question to overhaul how the state classifies ride-hailing, delivery and other so-called gig workers. The industry-backed campaign was shaping up to be the most expensive contest on last year’s ballot — until it was derailed by the state’s top court due to technical issues with its wording. Now, the group Flexibility and Benefits for Massachusetts is pushing to put the question back on the 2024 ballot. If passed, it would reclassify gig workers as independent contractors and provide a wage floor and new benefits — though critics argue drivers could actually get paid less than minimum wage.

Standardized tests: Massachusetts is one of just eight states that requires students to pass a standardized “exit exam” — known as the MCAS — to graduate high school. WBUR’s Max Larkin reports that one of the proposed ballot questions filed yesterday would end the practice. The Massachusetts Teachers Association — which says the high-stakes test harms students with disabilities and those from immigrant households — is poised to back the campaign to replace the MCAS requirement with a certification of satisfactory coursework.

Shrooms: The same group behind successful ballot questions to decriminalize psychedelics in Oregon and Colorado is pushing for Massachusetts to follow suit in 2024. Their proposed initiative would legalize the use of natural psychedelic substances like psilocybin mushrooms for people 21 and older at licensed therapy centers.

Also in the mix

All in all, over 40 new ballot questions proposals were filed by the end of the day yesterday, and they run the gamut of subjects:

Rent control: State Rep. Mike Connolly filed a petition to allow cities and towns to pass rent control at the local level (it’s currently banned statewide), as well as further regulate evictions and broker’s fees.

Democracy reform: Roughly a half dozen petitions aim to tweak the state’s democratic processes, including multiple proposals for same-day registration and even a proposed 2026 constitutional amendment to create a California-esque recall system in the Bay State.

From the right: There are a few petitions seeking to take conservative priorities straight to the voters, including suspending the gas tax at certain times and requiring voter ID in elections.

Indigenous People’s Day: While a number of cities and towns have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day, one proposed ballot question would expand the change across Massachusetts.

What won’t be on the ballot

Minimum wage: After mulling their options, the group Raise Up Massachusetts said it won’t pursue a 2024 ballot question to raise the state’s $15-an hour minimum wage, tying it to inflation. However, a separate group has filed a petition to raise the tipped minimum wage.

What’s next

Remember, this is the easy part. Organizers only had to get 10 signatures to file this week. They’ll have to collect another 75,000 names this fall to move forward in the process.

P.S.— Did you miss this week’s supermoon? Check out these stellar sturgeon moon photos from across the globe — plus a few of the supersized moon from around Boston.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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