GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 2, 2012

Voters face budget, campaign questions, too

When voters on Cape Ann and across the state go to the polls Tuesday, they will face three binding statewide referendum questions regarding a so-called “right to repair” bill for automotive shops, a measure allowing a version of assisted suicide, and a proposal allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

But a trio of non-binding questions on the ballot in Cape Ann communities and a number of others will also query voter opinion on full-fledged marijuana legalization, federal budget priorities, and a proposed campaign finance amendment.

The questions, should they gain voter approval, will ask Cape Ann’s state legislators to support resolutions repealing the federal prohibition of marijuana, a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling, and support a “budget for all” effort.

Voters in Essex, Rockport and Gloucester will all vote on the nonbinding questions, in addition to the three statewide binding questions, while Manchester voters will see just two of the non-binding queries.

The questions are posed by state representative and Senate districts. Questions 4 and 5, respectively, ask voters in all four communities whether they want state Sen. Bruce Tarr, Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante in Gloucester, Rockport and Essex, and Rep. Brad Hill in Manchester to support the resolutions calling for marijuana legalization and the amendment to close the door on the Citizens United ruling and unlimited corporate campaign spending.

Question 6, calling for the so-called “budget for all” effort, appears only in Ferrante’s district, in Gloucester, Essex and Rockport. Manchester voters will face only non-binding questions 4 and 5 in addition to the statewide questions.

For Andrew Innes, a Gloucester resident who works for Common Cause, the nonprofit lobbying group, Question 5 and the Citizens United amendment is about restoring voters’ faith in elections and politics.

Question 5, which has received backing from Gloucester’s City Council and from Rockport Town Meeting, calls on Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and that both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending.

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