Read the State Legislative Tracker. New edition available now!

Laws governing local ballot measures in Massachusetts

From Ballotpedia
Revision as of 14:43, 23 August 2013 by Jamieapplegate (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

BallotLaw final.png

Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

State-by-State Laws
Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Michigan • Minnesota • Mississippi • Missouri • Montana • Nebraska • Nevada • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New Mexico • New York • North Carolina • North Dakota • Ohio • Oklahoma • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • South Carolina • South Dakota • Tennessee • Texas • Utah • Vermont • Virginia • Washington • West Virginia • Wisconsin • Wyoming

Terms
InitiativeHome ruleGeneral law cityCharter cityPetitionCirculation periodCirculatorPaid circulatorVolunteer circulatorCirculator affidavitSignerValid signatureForged signatureFraudulent signatureInvalid signatureElectronic petition signatureLegislative tamperingRegistered voter
There are some Massachusetts cities which have access to an initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Massachusetts. It explains:

  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Note that Massachusetts is one of twenty-four states that allow the initiative process at the statewide level.

Types of local government

Local government in Massachusetts consists of:

  • 53 city governments.
  • 298 town governments.
  • 5 county governments.
  • In addition, there are 412 special districts and 84 independent school districts.[1]

Further classification of cities and towns:

Cities and towns in Massachusetts may be:

  • Home rule charter, of which there are 90, as of 2008
  • Special act charter, of which there are approximately 60
  • General law, of which there are approximately 201.[2][3]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Massachusetts
School bonds
& taxes
Portal:School Bond and Tax Elections
Bond elections
2014201320122011
201020092008
All years and states
Property tax elections
2014201320122011
201020092008
All years and states
How voting works
Other
State comparisons
County evaluations
Approval rates
School bond and tax elections in Massachusetts are not required under state law. All bond issues and funding requests for capital improvements are handled by the Massachusetts School Building Authority and the Massachusetts School Building Assistance Program.

Local recall rules

Recall of local elected officials in Massachusetts is available in some jurisdictions.

The right of citizens to recall elected officials is believed to have been mentioned first in the Massachusetts Charter of 1691.

For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Massachusetts
A guide to local ballot initiatives
Local Ballot Initiatives cover.jpg

Initiative process availability

The local units of government in Massachusetts that make the initiative process available are:

  • General law cities operating under government types A,B,C,D,E, and F as specified in Chapter 43 of Mass. General Laws have a state specified initiative and referendum process for ordinances. There are 25 such cities.
  • Home rule charter cities and towns have a state mandated initiative process for charter amendments. There are 90 such municipalities.
  • Charter counties have a state mandated initiative and referendum process. However, no county has yet become a charter county under the statutes mandating initiative and referendum. One county, Barnstable, has a charter that was a special act of the legislature and is not subject to the amendment process provided in state statutes. However, its charter provides a process for initiative and referendum for charter amendment.[3]

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

Massachusetts Constitution
Seal of Massachusetts.png
Preamble
Part the First:
Articles I - XXX
Part the Second:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Articles of Amendment

Massachusetts Constitution Article LXXXIX provides for home rule charter adoption for cities and towns. A petition process is provided for charter adoption and revisions. A successful petition campaign leads to the creation of a charter commission and a subsequent vote on the proposed or revised charter.

Section 3. Procedure for Adoption or Revision of a Charter by a City or Town. - Every city and town shall have the power to adopt or revise a charter in the following manner: A petition for the adoption or revision of a charter shall be signed by at least fifteen per cent of the number of legal voters residing in such city or town at the preceding state election.[4]

Statutes

Chapter 43 B, Section 3 of the Massachusetts General Laws also governs the petition process for home rule charter adoptions and revisions.

Section 3. The adoption of a charter for any city or town under sections two and three of Article LXXXIX of the Amendments to the Constitution and the revision of any charter so adopted shall be initiated by filing with the board of registrars of voters of the city or town a petition signed by at least fifteen per cent of the number of registered voters residing in said city or town at the preceding state election.[4]

Chapter 43 B, Section 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws provides an initiative process for charter amendments. Unlike some other states, a successful petition campaign does not force a vote at the ballot. However, a public hearing must be held and the proposed amendment must be considered and voted upon by the city council or town meeting of the municipality.

Chapter 43, Sections 37 and 42 of the Massachusetts General Laws gives authority to general law cities with government types A, B, C, D, E, and F for the powers of initiative and referendum.

Section 37. A petition conforming to the requirements hereinafter provided and requesting the city council to pass a measure, except an order granted under section seventy or seventy-one of chapter one hundred and sixty-four or chapter one hundred and sixty-six, or requesting the school committee to pass a measure, therein set forth or designated, shall be termed an initiative petition, and shall be acted upon as hereinafter provided. In this and the eight following sections, “measure” shall mean an ordinance, resolution, order or vote passed by a city council, or a resolution, order or vote passed by a school committee, as the case may be.[4]
Section 42. If, within twenty days after the final passage of any measure, except a revenue loan order, by the city council or by the school committee, a petition signed by registered voters of the city, equal in number to at least twelve percent of the total number of registered voters, and addressed to the city council or to the school committee, as the case may be, protesting against such measure or any part thereof taking effect, is filed with the city clerk, the same shall thereupon and thereby be suspended from taking effect.[4]

Initiative process features

The charter amendment process for Home rule charters is detailed in Chapter 43B of the Massachusetts General Laws.[5]

The initiative and referendum process is available to all cities that have instituted government types A,B,C,D,E, or F. The process features are detailed in the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 43, Section 37-44.[6]


Local I&R Laws in the 50 States
Laws governing local ballot measures in WashingtonLaws governing local ballot measures in OregonLaws governing local ballot measures in CaliforniaLaws governing local ballot measures in NevadaLaws governing local ballot measures in ArizonaLaws governing local ballot measures in AlaskaLaws governing local ballot measures in HawaiiLaws governing local ballot measures in UtahLaws governing local ballot measures in IdahoLaws governing local ballot measures in MontanaLaws governing local ballot measures in WyomingLaws governing local ballot measures in ColoradoLaws governing local ballot measures in New MexicoLaws governing local ballot measures in TexasLaws governing local ballot measures in OklahomaLaws governing local ballot measures in KansasLaws governing local ballot measures in NebraskaLaws governing local ballot measures in South DakotaLaws governing local ballot measures in North DakotaLaws governing local ballot measures in MinnesotaLaws governing local ballot measures in IowaLaws governing local ballot measures in MissouriLaws governing local ballot measures in ArkansasLaws governing local ballot measures in LouisianaLaws governing local ballot measures in MississippiLaws governing local ballot measures in TennesseeLaws governing local ballot measures in AlabamaLaws governing local ballot measures in FloridaLaws governing local ballot measures in GeorgiaLaws governing local ballot measures in South CarolinaLaws governing local ballot measures in North CarolinaLaws governing local ballot measures in KentuckyLaws governing local ballot measures in VirginiaLaws governing local ballot measures in West VirginiaLaws governing local ballot measures in WisconsinLaws governing local ballot measures in IllinoisLaws governing local ballot measures in IndianaLaws governing local ballot measures in MichiganLaws governing local ballot measures in MichiganLaws governing local ballot measures in OhioLaws governing local ballot measures in PennsylvaniaLaws governing local ballot measures in MarylandLaws governing local ballot measures in MarylandLaws governing local ballot measures in DelawareLaws governing local ballot measures in DelawareLaws governing local ballot measures in ConnecticutLaws governing local ballot measures in New JerseyLaws governing local ballot measures in New JerseyLaws governing local ballot measures in New YorkLaws governing local ballot measures in ConnecticutLaws governing local ballot measures in MassachusettsLaws governing local ballot measures in Rhode IslandLaws governing local ballot measures in MassachusettsLaws governing local ballot measures in VermontLaws governing local ballot measures in New HampshireLaws governing local ballot measures in MaineLaws governing local ballot measures in New HampshireLaws governing local ballot measures in VermontLocal I&R 50 states Map.png
Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns

Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in Massachusetts
City[7] Population City Type Form of government Next election
Boston 625,087 Special Act Charter mayor-council 2015
Worcester 181,631 Home Rule Charter council-manager N/A
Springfield 153,155 General law Plan A: mayor-council N/A
Lowell 107,584 General law Plan E: council-manager N/A
Cambridge 106,038 General law Plan E: council-manager N/A
New Bedford 95,183 General law Plan B: mayor-council N/A
Brockton 94,316 General law Plan B: mayor-council N/A
Quincy 92,909 General law Plan A: mayor-council N/A
Lynn 91,040 Home Rule Charter mayor-council N/A
Fall River 88,962 General law Plan A: mayor-council N/A


External links

References

  1. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named mma
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Types
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 43B
  6. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 43
  7. US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 US Census "March 2011 Estimate of Massachusetts cities"
  9. Worcester city code
  10. Quincy city code
  11. Lynn city code