Massachusetts lawmakers consider amending petition policies
BOSTON, Massachusetts: In an effort to discourage interest groups with deep pockets from influencing Massachusetts voters, Rep. James Fagan proposed two bills to amend the current petition policies. Right now, petitioners must collect 66,593 signatures (the article mistakenly says more than 100,000 signatures) for the legislature to consider a citizen petition. If the legislature chooses not to address the petition, citizens must collect an additional 11,099 signatures (the article mistakenly says 20,000 signatures) to put the measure on the ballot. However, the proposed bill calls for preventing outside firms from being hired to collect signatures. The second bill requires gatherers to wear buttons declaring their name, affiliation and the amount that they are being paid. The buttons must be worn when collecting signatures. Although most lawmakers said that they understood what the bills were trying to accomplish, some said that they simply could not support them. "It's hard enough to get something on the ballot, but trying to further encumber the process by adding restrictions is something I think should probably be studied, but not something I would likely support," said Rep. Thomas Golden. Secretary of State William Galvin said that, if the bills pass, he foresees the bills being challenged in court. Golden added, "This is not a spectator sport that someone should be sitting by and idly watching. If you're so enraged by what they're doing, push the opposite cause."