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Local News

November 9, 2012

Non-binding questions win voter support, but little else

Questions tackle Citizens United, legalizing marijuana, federal spending

As America took to the polls on Tuesday, local voters overwhelmingly supported a number of nonbinding ballot initiatives dealing with some of the country’s most hotly debated issues.

The nonbinding questions, which varied by state legislative district and were contested in different pockets of the state, gave voters a chance to weigh in on matters like tax reform and marijuana regulation while allowing officials a glimpse into the will of the public.

“Essentially, they’re a way for voters to express their interest in an issue to elected officials,” said Bruce Tarr, the state Senate minority leader whose district includes several local towns. “They don’t compel any necessary action … but if a bill is filed in the future, we would take the referendum into account.”

In the Newburyport area, three questions appeared on the ballots of most communities, including the wide-ranging “Budget for All” tax reform question, a measure supporting the repeal of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and a referendum on the full legalization of marijuana.

The “Budget for All” question instructs the local legislator to call upon Congress and the president to “prevent cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other assistance programs, invest in creating jobs, close corporate tax loopholes, raise taxes on incomes over $250,000, and reduce military spending by bringing U.S. troops home now.”

Similarly, the Citizens United question asks the legislator to ask Congress to “propose a constitutional amendment specifying that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of humans, and that both Congress and the states may limit political contributions and spending.”

These two questions were on the ballot in the 1st and 2nd Essex House Districts, which include Salisbury, Amesbury, Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Merrimac, Groveland, Georgetown and parts of Haverhill and Boxford.

The third question, which takes the provisions of Question 3 even further by fully legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, was on the ballot in Tarr’s 1st Essex and Middlesex Senate District, which includes Georgetown, Groveland, Newbury, Rowley and West Newbury, among other communities farther away.

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