Nurse Ballot Question Defeated, Others Pass
Staff and Wire report
BOSTON -- The hotly contested Question 1 ballot initiative on nurse-staffing ratios was defeated last night, while the other two ballot questions passed, meaning the state’s law protecting transgender people will remain in place and a commission will be formed to advance a possible constitutional amendment to reverse the 2010 Citizen United decision.
Question 1 ended with a victory for the Coalition to Protect Patient safety, which led the No on 1 campaign.
The defeat means that mandatory safe patient limits will not be assigned to Massachusetts registered nurses working in hospitals. Question 1 kept the medical community divided during most of the campaign with the Committee to Ensure Safe Patient Care leading the Yes on 1 campaign.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association, the industry group that pushed for a “yes” vote on Question 1 argued that tightening nurse ratios would benefit patient care and improve the working environment for nurses.
The Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the industry group leading the opposition pointed to the high cost of hiring new nurses and argued that it would not improve safety for patients. The group also pointed to a nurse staffing shortage in the state and the quick turnaround that the ballot measure required in hiring new staff.
Nurse staffing ratios are already set to a mandated 2-1 ratio in the intensive care unit, but the ballot measure pushed to extend the ratios to all other hospital departments.
The campaign drew in a lot of funding, the opposition racked up over $26 million in campaign contributions while the Yes on 1 campaign made over $11 million
Question 2, which passed, calls for creation of a 15-member commission that will be charged with advancing a constitutional amendment that would reverse the 2010 Citizens United decision. The ruling prohibits the government from limiting political spending by corporations, unions and other groups.
Critics say the ruling has paved the way for corporations and wealthy special interests to spend freely and exert undue influence on political campaigns.
The unpaid commission would have until Dec. 31, 2019, to make recommendations.
Opponents of the question said amending the constitution would be “dangerous and misguided.”
Question 3 also passed, rejecting an effort by opponents to repeal the 2-year-old law protecting transgender people. It was the first statewide referendum in the U.S. on transgender rights.
Supporters of the law feared a vote to repeal would prompt a wave of similar efforts to roll back protections in other states. Massachusetts was the first to legalize gay marriage and is viewed as one of the most LGBT-friendly states.
Critics say the 2016 law allows sexual predators to invade private spaces for women by claiming female gender identity. No such incidents have been reported in Massachusetts since the measure took effect.
Material from the Boston Herald and the Associated Press was used in this report.