Insurance

Voters weigh ballot measures on driver’s licenses, dental insurance, liquor licenses

Question 4, pushed by a GOP-led group and largely funded by auto parts official and GOP activist Rick Green, centers on an existing law that will go into effect next summer, if voters vote for it. respect. The law allows people without legal immigration status to obtain a driver’s license by providing two documents proving their identity, such as a foreign passport, birth certificate or marriage certificate.

Hours before the polls closed, Tom Smith of Neighbors United for a Better East Boston went door to door asking people to vote yes to questions 1 and 4.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The law, which passed earlier this year over the objections of Gov. Charlie Baker, was backed by immigrant rights groups, insurance companies, the attorney general, the majority of sheriffs and district attorneys. of the state and the chiefs of police of the large cities of Massachusetts, which represent the cities of more than 40,000 inhabitants.

It was signed into law in June after Massachusetts lawmakers voted to override a veto from Baker, who said the proposal could threaten election security, among other concerns.

Under the new law, the state is required to ensure that people who do not have proof of legal residency are not automatically registered to vote under state law that registers those applying. a driver’s license and who are of voting age.

The idea, which has been fiercely debated for years, would affect much of the estimated quarter-million undocumented people living in Massachusetts – and, according to its proponents, the millions of drivers they share the roads with. . Critics say it rewards people who break the law by living in the country without legal status and encourages others to do the same.

Also on Tuesday, voters will decide whether or not to require dental insurers to spend at least 83% of insurance premiums on patient care rather than administrative costs. Question 2 indicates that if insurers do not spend enough to meet the threshold, they should return the money to Massachusetts patients through rebates.

No minimum threshold is currently imposed on the industry.

The ballot measure is backed by dentists and opposed by insurance companies, who say insurance premiums would rise if passed. They say insurers would still have largely the same administrative costs as before, but would now only be allowed to use 17% of the premium they collect to pay them.

Proponents argue that dental insurance should have minimum requirements on how much to spend on patient care, similar to those already imposed on other health insurance providers. Under state law, medical insurers in Massachusetts must spend 88% of the premiums they collect on patient care.

Meanwhile, in Question 3, voters will decide whether the state should gradually increase the number of locations where a single business can sell beer or wine, from nine to 18. A change in the law would also lower the cap on all-alcohol licenses, or the number of places a business can sell hard liquor, from nine to seven. The proposal includes a grandfather clause for any business that already holds eight or nine all-alcohol licenses.

A “yes” vote would also force retailers to accept out-of-state driver’s licenses, ban the sale of alcohol through self-pay machines and change the fine formula for stores that sell to minors or intoxicated persons.

A sign outside a store in Newton about question 3 on the ballot.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Team

The ballot measure is not the first time such a problem has arisen. In 2011, small independent liquor stores and large retail chains worked out a compromise in the state legislature that gradually raised the liquor license limit from three to nine. In 2019, convenience store chain Cumberland Farms announced plans for a ballot measure that would lift the liquor licensing cap entirely for grocery stores like theirs.

In response, the Massachusetts Package Stores Association offered a compromise in the form of the current ballot initiative.

MassPack argues that this ballot measure would increase convenience for consumers because retailers could apply for additional licenses for their existing locations that do not currently sell alcohol or for any new locations. Cumberland Farms has not been active in opposing Question 3, but retail giant Total Wine & More has funded a campaign to oppose it, arguing that the ballot question is an attempt to stifle competition.

Sahar Fatima of Globe staff contributed to this report.


Samantha J. Gross can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @samanthajgross.