On November 6, 2018, when Massachusetts voters go to the polls to select a new Governor and other key elected officers, they will also consider Ballot Question 1, which will mandate rigid registered nurse staffing ratios for hospitals across the Commonwealth effective as of January 1, 2019. This proposal would make Massachusetts the second state in the United States to have specific staffing ratios mandated in all units. This initiative follows only California, which passed a less comprehensive law through the legislative process in 1999 and provided over five (5) years for hospitals to implement by 2004.1 The Massachusetts ballot initiative process, like that of some other states, allows the voters to write entirely new law into books. Question 1 appears to be the most heavily-fought ballot initiative in Massachusetts in recent memory. While Massachusetts seems to be the only state this year with a nurse staffing ratio as a referendum ballot initiative,2 unions nationally will focus on the results of this years effort.

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