A Letter to the Editor: Vote YES on Ballot Questions 3 and 4

October 19, 2020

Submitted by Mothers Out Front

On behalf of Mothers Out Front, an advocacy group of over 24,000 mothers working to protect children and communities from the impact of climate change, we provide here context and background on Questions 3 & 4 that appear on the Bedford ballot.

Both have a direct impact on creating the laws that our children need from our state legislators. These two questions also appear in other MA districts, with Question 3 appearing in 19 others and Question 4 in 16 others. A webinar by 350 Massachusetts informs voters on these questions: http://bit.ly/350MassWebinar

Question 3 reads: “Shall the representative for this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would require Massachusetts to achieve 100% renewable energy use within the next two decades, starting immediately and making significant progress within the first five years while protecting impacted workers and businesses?”

This question was drafted by 350 Massachusetts and endorsed by the Charles River Green Coalition. Though this is a non-binding ballot question, it serves to raise awareness within the electorate about the need for action now and sends a strong signal to the legislature that it should be working at a much faster pace given the magnitude of the climate crisis we are facing.

A YES vote serves to notify our legislators to act on climate change so that within the next 20 years we will transition to 100% renewable energy with provisions for significant progress within 5 years.  To those who worry about lost jobs due to such a transition to renewable energy, the question clarifies that any legislation must protect impacted workers and businesses.  Such legislation, we believe, will usher in a new era of Green Collar jobs.

A NO vote on this question will kick the can down the road on climate change and will further disadvantage the economy by not being prepared to take advantage of the many well-paying jobs in the green economy.

Question 4 reads, “Shall the representative for this district be instructed to vote in favor of changes to the Legislature’s rules that would make the results of all votes in Legislative committees publicly available on the Legislature’s website?”

This question is a referendum on transparency in a democratic system. In our Commonwealth, committee deliberations and votes are sealed from the public and the MA statehouse is one of the least transparent legislatures in the entire country.

A YES vote will allow the electorate, both republicans, and democrats, access to how their representatives voted in committee, making them accountable to their constituents, whether it is climate legislation or any other legislation.  Many bills that enjoy strong popular and legislative support never make it to the floor for a vote but instead die in committee.  Sometimes this happens even for bills that a certain representative has co-sponsored.  Though non-binding, if this question passes, it will require that an amendment to the house rules be put forward in January. Unlike bills, this amendment cannot be killed in committee in secrecy.

A NO vote will continue the status quo and not give the public transparency to the voting pattern of their representatives.  Representatives will be allowed to make compromises and not have to answer for it to their constituents, sometimes even on bills that they co-sponsored.  A no vote will promote incumbency and not allow challengers to hold incumbents accountable to the positions they have taken.

Please vote YES on questions 3 & 4 to advance climate legislation and to increase transparency in government.

To learn more about Mothers Out Front in Bedford, click https://ma.mothersoutfront.org/bedford

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