Massachusetts residents who made the ballot initiative deadline set by Attorney General Martha Coakley this week rushed to file proposed initiatives on everything from rolling back a sales tax hike to legalising online poker, reports the Associated Press news service. The suggestions are the first step in a long road to the 2010 ballot.
 
All suggestions submitted within the deadline will now be considered by Coakley, who determines if they are allowed under the constitution. There are a total of 30 petitions on 17 subjects this year. Of the 17, there are 4 constitutional amendments.  Pokerstars
 
Some submissions would eliminate tolls, end the state's main affordable housing law, regulate Internet poker in Massachusetts and exempt alcohol sold in stores from the sales tax.
 
Getting questions on the ballot is no easy feat. Once the questions are given a green light by the attorney general, supporters must collect the signatures of at least 66 593 Massachusetts voters by December 2, except in the case of repeal efforts, where 33 297 signatures must be collected.
 
If lawmakers refuse to put the submission on the ballot after that, supporters must collect an additional 11 099 signatures by July, 2010.
 
Associated Press lists some of the proposed initiatives filed with Attorney General Coakley's office Wednesday: 
 
– Sales Tax: The questions would roll the state's 6.25 percent sales tax back to 5 percent, or 4 percent or 3 percent or 2.5 percent.
– Alcohol Tax: The proposal would exempt beer, wine and alcohol sold in stores from the sales tax.
– Tolls: The question would eliminate tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike, Tobin Bridge and Boston Harbor tunnels by Jan. 1, 2012.
– Affordable Housing: The initiative would end the state's affordable housing law, also known as the “40b” law.
– Whale-Safe Fishing: The question would ban drift nets or fishing gear which could harm endangered whales and sea turtles.
– Legislative Leadership: The proposed constitutional amendment would require lawmakers to hold secret ballots when electing the House speaker and Senate president.
– Charter Schools: The question would lift state-imposed caps on the number of charter school allowed in Massachusetts.
– Local Aid: The question would guarantee a certain percentage of the state budget be spent on local aid to cities and towns.
– Public Forests: The question would prohibit commercial harvesting of wood products on state-owned forest lands.
– Renewable Energy: The initiative would bar the use of public funds for renewable energy products that emit excessive carbon dioxide.
– Carbon Dioxide: The question would require carbon dioxide limits on sources of renewable and alternative energy.
– Internet Poker: The question would regulate and tax Internet poker in Massachusetts.
– Instant Runoff Voting: The question would allow voters to rank their preferences among candidates rather than be required to vote for a single candidate.
– Health Care: The proposed constitutional amendment would create the right to quality health care.
– Global Union: The proposed constitutional amendment would allow Massachusetts to join a global federal union of democratic nations.