November 3, 1982 FIGHT OVER DEATH PENALTY NOT YET ENDED By Nick King, Globe Staff A major legislative battle over the restoration of capital punishment can be expected by the end of the year, following passage yesterday of a statewide death penalty referendum. The constitutional amendment clearing the way for legislative enactment of a death penalty statute was approved by a margin of 60-40. The issue now is whether proponents can force a death penalty bill through the Legislature soon enough to be signed by outgoing Gov. Edward J. King, a death penalty supporter, or whether opponents can delay it until after the inauguration of governor-elect Michael S. Dukakis, a death penalty opponent who would likely veto any capital punishment bill. Yesterday's margin on the death penalty question, less than the 2-1 victory predicted by proponents, left both sides claiming victory and warming up rhetorically for the legislative fight. King legal adviser Dennis J. Curan called the victory "a mandate," while Atty. Max Stern, chairman of the Campaign Against Restoration of the Death Penalty, said there is "clearly an antideath penalty constituency in Massachusetts." In another major referendum campaign, voters reaffirmed support of the bottle bill by 59 to 41 percent. The vote makes it certain that the mandatory deposit law passed by the Legislature last year will now take effect on Jan. 17. Two referendum questions focused on the nuclear issue. In a ballot question mirroring a national trend, 72 percent of the voters overwhelmingly called for an international freeze of nuclear weapons. And in a more parochial vote, state restrictions on nuclear power plant construction and nuclear waste siting were approved by a margin of 66 to 34 percent. A proposed constitutional amendment to clear the way for state aid to private and parochial schools was rejected by a margin of 62 to 38 percent. For proponents of the bottle bill, last night's victory over the bottling industy-financed referendum culminated a 15-year-long strugggle for a mandatory deposit law. However, the Bay State reaffirmation of the bottle bill appeared to buck a national trend, with mandatory deposit laws in trouble in ballot questions in several states, including Colorado and Arizona. Dan Adams, regional vice president of the US Brewers Assn., said the Massachusetts vote appeared to reflect the antibusiness bias of the Northeast. He said the bottling industry will comply with the new law even though he believes it will raise consumer prices and cost industry jobs. Meanwhile, members of the grass roots Campaign to Save the Bottle Bill savored victory last night. "It's pretty clear the citizens of Massachusetts are overwhelmingly in favor of the bottle bill," said spokesman Mark Weber. "Now it's finally going to get a chance." The law, similar to bottle bills in five other states, specifies a nickel deposit on small beverage containers and a dime depost on large ones. Question 2, the death penalty, is technically an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution. It would authorize the Legislature to enact a capital punishment statute by providing that no provision of the constitution could be construed as prohibiting the imposition of punishment by death. The margin of victory is certain to guide the Legislature as to how strict a statute to enact. The margin should also have a bearing on how Dukakis, who opposes it, handles petitions for commutation of the death sentence. Question 5, a nonbinding resolution on a nuclear weapons freeze, also attracted strong voter sentiment. The advisory petition called for a mutual nuclear weapons freeze with the Soviet Union and other nations. Polls showed that the freeze had a broad spectrum of voter support in all age, income, ethnic and party groups. Advocates of the freeze, who have 146 local committees across Massachusetts, won a last-minute legislative battle in September when a compromise question for the ballot was speeded through the Legislature. The now-popular freeze movement has its roots in western Massachusetts. Two years ago nuclear moratorium questions appeared on ballots in 62 communities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hamden counties, winning by 2-1 margins. By the spring of this year the antinuclear arms race was in full swing. Nuclear arms limitation questions were voted on in nearly 450 New England town meetings. This fall, nuclear reduction proposals were also on the ballot in nine other states, the District of Columbia and some 30 cities and counties. Question 3 was an initiative petition to restrict the construction of nuclear power plants and nuclear waste facilities. The statute would require a legislative review of each proposal's environmental impact followed by a statewide vote to ratify or defeat the Legislature's findings. An amalgam of antinuclear forces sponsored the question while the opposition came mainly from the manufacturers and users of nuclear materials. The implications of the question, should it pass, are unclear because the Legislature could repeal or amend it. Question 1 was a proposed constitutional amendment to remove the present prohibition against the use of public funds to aid or maintain private or parochial schools. Passage would have brought the state constitution more in line with the US Constitution, which permits certain aid to students who attend private and parochial schools. Terri Minsky of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.