Difference between revisions of "Laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts"

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====Circulator requirements====
 
====Circulator requirements====
 
::''See also: [[Petition circulator]]''
 
::''See also: [[Petition circulator]]''
In Massachusetts, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating. [[Circulator affidavit|Circulator affidavit]] are not required. There are no other specified requirements for circulators.<ref>[https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII/Chapter53 ''The General Court'', "General Laws:CHAPTER 53," Accessed September 9, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/source/mass/cmr/cmrtext/950CMR48.pdf ''Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth'', "950 CMR 48.00: STATE BALLOT QUESTION PETITIONS," Accessed September 9, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleguide/guidesigs.htm ''Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts'', "State Ballot Question Petitions," Accessed September 9, 2013]</ref>
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In Massachusetts, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating. [[Circulator affidavit|Circulator affidavit]] are not required. There are no other specified requirements for circulators.<ref>[https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII/Chapter53 ''The General Court'', "General Laws:CHAPTER 53," accessed September 9, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/source/mass/cmr/cmrtext/950CMR48.pdf ''Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth'', "950 CMR 48.00: STATE BALLOT QUESTION PETITIONS," accessed September 9, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleguide/guidesigs.htm ''Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts'', "State Ballot Question Petitions," accessed September 9, 2013]</ref>
  
Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted for certification to the registrars of the city or town where the signers are voters. The registrars then file certified petitions with [[Massachusetts Secretary of State|Secretary of the Commonwealth]].<ref>[https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII/Chapter53/Section7 ''The General Court'', "General Laws:CHAPTER 53, Section 7," Accessed September 9, 2013]</ref><ref>[https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII/Chapter53/Section22A ''The General Court'', "General Laws:CHAPTER 53, Section 22A," Accessed September 9, 2013]</ref>
+
Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted for certification to the registrars of the city or town where the signers are voters. The registrars then file certified petitions with [[Massachusetts Secretary of State|Secretary of the Commonwealth]].<ref>[https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII/Chapter53/Section7 ''The General Court'', "General Laws:CHAPTER 53, Section 7," accessed September 9, 2013]</ref><ref>[https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII/Chapter53/Section22A ''The General Court'', "General Laws:CHAPTER 53, Section 22A," accessed September 9, 2013]</ref>
  
 
[[File:DocumentIcon.jpg|link=Portal:Ballot Measure Law]] <span style="color:#363636">'''''See law:''' [https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII/Chapter53 General Laws:CHAPTER 53] & [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleguide/guidesigs.htm A Guide to State Ballot Question Petitions]''</span>
 
[[File:DocumentIcon.jpg|link=Portal:Ballot Measure Law]] <span style="color:#363636">'''''See law:''' [https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVIII/Chapter53 General Laws:CHAPTER 53] & [http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleguide/guidesigs.htm A Guide to State Ballot Question Petitions]''</span>

Revision as of 07:59, 21 April 2014

[edit]

Ballot law
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State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Fiscal review
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of Massachusetts may initiate legislation through the process of indirect initiative. In Massachusetts, successful petitions are first presented to the Massachusetts General Court. Once presented to the legislature, proposals for amendments and proposals for statutes face distinct requirements. Amendments must be approved by one-fourth of the legislators in joint session before proceeding to the ballot. Statutes may be adopted by the legislature by a majority vote in both houses. If statute is not adopted, proponents must collect another, smaller round of signatures to place the statute on the ballot. In Massachusetts, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. The Massachusetts General Court can also place measures on the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the allowable scope and content of initiated proposals. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

In 1941, the Massachusetts General Court sought an advisory opinion from the State Supreme Court on this requirement. The request was made in response to a proposed measure allowing doctors to provide contraceptives to married couples for health reasons and exempting medical educators and medical journals from prohibitions on giving advice regarding contraception. The court determined that these provisions satisfied the requirement, arguing:

"Nor can it rightly be said that the particular subjects... are not related, in view of the relation of each of them to the general subject and purpose of the proposed law. The particular subjects of the proposed law appear to be germane to the general subject of prevention of pregnancy or conception, to such an extent, at least, that they cannot rightly be said to be unrelated."[1]

A 1981 ruling (Massachusetts Teachers Association vs. Secretary of the Commonwealth) confirmed this interpretation, finding that "If... one can identify a common purpose to which each subject of an initiative petition can reasonably be said to be germane, the relatedness test is met." The court further emphasized this point by noting that the related subjects requirement is "less restrictive" than a single-subject rule.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXIV, Section 1

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

Massachusetts does restrict the subject of initiated measures. Measures may not propose laws regarding the following subjects:

  • Religion or religious institutions
  • Judges, judicial decisions, or courts
  • Laws that apply to particular cities/towns
  • Laws that make specific appropriations
  • The 18th Amendment (prohibition of alcohol)
  • Restricting rights found in the Declaration of Rights
  • Subject restriction or the modification of existing restrictions

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Part II, Section 2

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of Massachusetts ballot measures

The Massachusetts Constitution provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other on any points of conflict--the other measure is not wholly superseded. The General Court is permitted to group conflicting initiatives together on the ballot. Unlike in Maine, this grouping does not restrict how voters may vote on the questions. The General Court is also permitted to place a legislative substitute along side any measure on the ballot. This requires a simple majority vote in either chamber in the case of proposed statutes. In the case of proposed amendments, this requires a majority vote in joint session in each of two years.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Parts III & VI

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[2][3][4]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

Prior to circulation, petitioners must file a preliminary petition with the Attorney General. This petition includes the title and full text of the measure and the signatures of ten voters. In addition, each of the ten signers must provide documentation of their voter registration (a certificate of voter registration, signed by a majority of the members of the local board of registrars). Once the Attorney General has reviewed the petition, proponents must submit the petition to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The secretary then drafts the official petition form and supplies it to the proponents.

  • Details and guidelines for petition forms can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXIV, Section 1 & Massachusetts General Laws, Part I, Title VIII, Chapter 53, Section 22A

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

After an application is submitted, the Attorney General must review the proposal to ensure that it complies with the state's subject restrictions. If it complies, proponents then submit the petition to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and he or she drafts a summary of the proposed law to be included on the official petition form. This summary must be approved by the Attorney General.[5]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXIV, Section 1 & Code of Massachusetts Regulations, Title 950, Section 48.04

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

Massachusetts does not conduct a fiscal impact study on proposed measures. The legislature is required to fund measures that it does not repeal during the initiative process.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Part II, Section 2

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: Massachusetts signature requirements

Since Massachusetts employs an indirect initiative process, the General Court has an opportunity to adopt proposed laws and amendments before they move to a popular vote. However, unlike other states, Massachusetts requires additional signatures following legislative inaction.

For an amendment or statute, signatures must equal 3% of votes cast for governor in the most recent election (excluding blanks). If the legislature declines to act on a proposed statute, supporters are required to collect a second round of signatures totaling 0.5% of the votes cast for governor in the most recent election (excluding blanks). For proposed amendments, one-quarter of the legislature must approve the petition in a joint session -- a second round of signatures is not required.

For a veto referendum, signatures must equal 1.5% of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent election. No more than one-fourth of these certified signatures may come from any one county. If the petitioners request suspension of the law in writing, signatures are required totaling 2% of the total votes cast for governor in the last election.

Year Amendment or Statute Statute add-on Veto referendum Veto referendum (suspension of law)
2014 68,911 11,485 34,456 45,941
2012 68,911 11,485 34,456 45,941
2010 66,593 11,099 33,297 44,396
2008 66,593 11,099 33,297 44,396

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Parts IV-V & Article LXXXI, Section 2

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

In Massachusetts, no more than one-quarter of the certified signatures on any petition can come from a single county.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, "General Provisions"

Restrictions on circulators

Circulator requirements

See also: Petition circulator

In Massachusetts, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating. Circulator affidavit are not required. There are no other specified requirements for circulators.[6][7][8]

Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted for certification to the registrars of the city or town where the signers are voters. The registrars then file certified petitions with Secretary of the Commonwealth.[9][10]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: General Laws:CHAPTER 53 & A Guide to State Ballot Question Petitions

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

Massachusetts does not ban pay-per-signature.[11]

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Massachusetts does not require petition circulators to be state residents.[12]

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

Massachusetts does not require paid and volunteer circulators be identified as such on badges or petitions.[13]

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. Massachusetts law does require petitioners to use state-provided petition forms.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Code of Massachusetts Regulations, Title 950, Section 48.07

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

Signatures for initiated statutes in Massachusetts are collected in two circulation periods. The first period runs from the third Wednesday in September to two weeks prior to the first Wednesday in December, a period of 9 weeks.

The legislature must act on the petition by the first Wednesday of May. If the proposed law is not adopted, petitioners then have until the first Wednesday of July to request additional petition forms and submit the second round of signatures, a period of 8 weeks.

Initiated amendments, however, do not require this second round of signatures. Unlike initiated statutes, one-quarter of the state legislature must approve the amendment in a joint session before it can be placed on the ballot.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Part IV-V & Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXXI, Section 1-3

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

In Massachusetts, petition signatures are submitted to local registrars according to each signer's registration. Once certified by the local registrar of voters, the signatures are submitted to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Petitioners are responsible for the picking up the certified signatures from the local registrars and submitting them to the secretary. The deadline for submission to the local registrars is two weeks prior to the deadline for submission to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts General Laws, Part I, Title VIII, Chapter 53, Section 7

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

In Massachusetts, each measure receives a generic name (Question 1, Question 2...) as well as a title drafted by proponents and a summary drafted by the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Both of these are reviewed by the Attorney General upon applying to petition. In addition, the Secretary and Attorney General jointly prepare two sentences, one explaining the effect of a "yes" vote and the other explaining the effect of a "no" vote.

Along with the title, ballot language includes both the summary and the yes/no descriptions. The state also prepares a voters guide on state ballot questions with arguments for and against each proposed measure.

  • A sample of a past voters guide can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXIV, Section 1; Code of Massachusetts Regulations, Title 950, Section 48.04 ; Massachusetts General Laws, Part I, Title VIII, Chapter 54, Section 53 & Massachusetts General Laws, Part I, Title VIII, Chapter 54, Section 42A

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

Massachusetts initiatives, whether statutes or amendments, must receive a simple majority of the votes cast for or against them. However, at least 30% of those casting a ballot in the election must vote in favor of the measure. This does not apply to legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Part IV-V & Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXXI, Section 1-3

Effective date

According to the Massachusetts Constitution, initiated statutes take effect "shall take effect in thirty days after such state election or at such time after such election as may be provided in such law." Courts have yet to fully clarify whether this means thirty days after the election or thirty days after the election results have been certified. However, within the text of the measure, petitioners may stipulate that the law take effect upon certification.[14] Initiated amendments, on the other hand, take effect upon the certification of election results.[15]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Part IV-V & Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXXI, Section 1-3

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

Any 50 Massachusetts voters can challenge a measure's descriptive title or the sentences explaining the effect of a yes or no vote. Such challenges should be filed with the Supreme Judicial Court.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts General Laws, Part I, Title VIII, Chapter 54, Section 53

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

Massachusetts does not limit how soon, or with what majority, the legislature can repeal an initiated statute. Legislators can only overturn an amendment through the ordinary amendment process.[16] However, if a statute is not repealed the legislature must fund it.

When a proposed amendment is placed before the legislature, lawmakers may amend the proposed amendment but only by a three-fourths supermajority vote called in the joint session. They may not amend proposed statutes. (Note: The majority of an initiative's sponsors can amend a proposed statute after the legislature fails to act and without re-collecting signatures. These amendments may not "materially change the substance of the measure.")

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII & Article LXXIV

Re-attempting an initiative

In Massachusetts, no measure may be proposed which is substantially the same as any measure that has been submitted to the people in either of the last two biennial state elections.[17]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXIV, Section 1

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Massachusetts ballot measures

Some of the main features of Massachusetts campaign finance law include:

  • Massachusetts treats groups in support or opposition of a referendum differently from other political committees.
  • Massachusetts requires a group in support or opposition of a referendum to file a statement of organization before accepting any contributions.
  • Corporations and labor unions are allowed to donate to campaigns in support or opposition of a referendum.
  • All contributions received must be earmarked within 7 days of receipt of the contribution.
  • All ballot question committees must file their reports electronically.
  • No employee of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be forced to donate to a campaign in support or opposition of a referendum.

State initiative law

Article XLVIII of the Massachusetts Constitution provides authority for the initiative and referendum process.

Part I, Title VIII, Chapter 53 of the Massachusetts General Laws governs the initiative and referendum process.

External links

References

  1. Masscases.com, "OPINION OF THE JUSTICES TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, May 1, 1941
  2. NCSL, "Drafting the Initiative Proposal," accessed May 19, 2011
  3. NCSL, "Preparation of a Fiscal Analysis," accessed May 19, 2011
  4. NCSL, "Preparation of a Ballot Title and Summary," accessed May 19, 2011
  5. Elections Division, "State Ballot Question Petitions," accessed August 18, 2011
  6. The General Court, "General Laws:CHAPTER 53," accessed September 9, 2013
  7. Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, "950 CMR 48.00: STATE BALLOT QUESTION PETITIONS," accessed September 9, 2013
  8. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, "State Ballot Question Petitions," accessed September 9, 2013
  9. The General Court, "General Laws:CHAPTER 53, Section 7," accessed September 9, 2013
  10. The General Court, "General Laws:CHAPTER 53, Section 22A," accessed September 9, 2013
  11. NCSL, "Paid vs. Volunteer Petitioners," June 17, 2010
  12. CICF, "2010 State Grades," January, 2010
  13. NCSL, "Paid vs. Volunteer Petitioners," June 17, 2010
  14. Elections Division, "State Ballot Question Petitions: Initiative Petition for a Law," accessed August 19, 2011
  15. Elections Division, "State Ballot Question Petitions:Initiative Petition for a Constitutional Amendment," accessed August 19, 2011
  16. NCSL, "Limiting the Legislature's Power to Amend and Repeal Initiated Statutes," June 28, 2011
  17. NCSL, "Banning Same or Similar Measures from the Ballot for a Specified Period of Time," May 2009



Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2012
2.1.2 2011
2.1.3 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in Massachusetts.

Proposed changes by year

2012

See also: Changes in 2012 to laws governing ballot measures

2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

The following bills were introduced in the Massachusetts General Court:

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts House Bill 1822: HB 1822 would introduce a subject restriction preventing initiatives from addressing regulations on hunting or fishing.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts House Bill 1830: H 1830 would more than double Massachusetts' signature requirements for initiatives, amendments, and referenda. To refer an initiative or amendment to the legislature, the requirement would jump from signatures equaling 3% of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election to signatures equaling 7%. To override the legislature and place the measure on the ballot, the requirement would jump from .5% to 1.5%. In addition, the bill would double the current referendum requirement of 2%.[1][2] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.
Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts House Bill 203: HB 203 would set a $500 cap on any contribution to a ballot measure campaign.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts House Bill 206: HB 206 would create an extensive badge requirement in MA. Each petition circulator would be required to wear a badge (or similar tag) including his/her full name, the name of the organization for whom they collect signatures, the full names of all other persons or organizations hired by the that organization to collect signatures, and the amount the circulator is being paid. The bill also sets fines for non-compliance.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts House Bill 207: HB 207 would prohibit paying circulators, in any form, for collecting signatures. A similar law was found unconstitutional in Meyer v. Grant.[3] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts House Bill 2735: HB 2735 would create a system for registering paid circulators and the organizations that hire them. A fee would be charged to registrants as necessary to maintain the database. Among other things, circulators would have to provide affidavits attesting to their legal eligibility to circulate petitions. Signatures gathered by paid but unregistered circulators would not be valid. The law would also ban pay-per-signature.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts House Bill 529: HB 529 proposes a constitutional amendment restricting the subject matter of future initiated constitutional amendments. The text of the measure is as follows: "No initiative petition shall propose a constitutional amendment that would restrict the rights set forth in this constitution to freedom and equality, or the right of each individual to be protected by society in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, according to standing laws."[4] The bill has been passed out of committee and called for consideration during the joint session.[5] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts Senate Bill 12: SB 12 proposes a constitutional amendment. Amendment text: "No initiative petition shall propose a constitutional amendment that would restrict the rights set forth in this constitution to freedom and equality, or the right of each individual to be protected by society in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, according to standing laws."

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts Senate Bill 13:

Right-facing-Arrow-icon.jpg Massachusetts Senate Bill 314: SB 314 would create a system for registering paid circulators and the organizations that hire them. A fee would be charged to registrants as necessary to maintain the database. Among other things, circulators would have to provide affidavits attesting to their legal eligibility to circulate petitions. Signatures gathered by paid but unregistered circulators would not be valid. The law would also ban pay-per-signature.


2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the Massachusetts State Legislature:


The following bills were introduced in the Massachusetts General Court:

Defeatedd HB 559: (dead link) HB 559, carried over from 2009, would:

  • Require that petition circulators register with the government. Registration with the government would be required both by "all business operating in the commonwealth engaged in the activity of collecting signatures for initiative or referendum petitions and that are using paid signature gatherers" and "all paid signature gatherers." Circulators would have to register separately for every petition they circulate.[1]
  • Forbid paying circulators on a pay-per-signature basis.
  • Forbid circulators from simultaneously circulating more than one initiative petition.

The bill died in committee without seeing a full vote in the General Court[2].

Defeatedd HB 571: HB 571, which was carried over from 2009, would:

  • Require any person who collects, or attempts to collect, signatures for an initiative or referendum petition to, at all times he is actively engaged in such activity wear a sticker, button, or other similar such marking on a conspicuous place on the outer layer of his clothing readily visible to persons being solicited.
  • All words on the sticker would have to be in "at least" 14-point type size.
  • The identifying buttons/stickers would have to include this information:
  • The first and last names of the person soliciting signatures
  • The full name of the person, corporation, organization, committee, or other entity on behalf of whom the person is soliciting signatures.
  • The full names of all "persons, corporations, organizations, committees, or other entities" hired or retained by the entity who hired the circulator for the purpose of obtaining signatures.
  • A statement disclosing how much compensation the person is receiving for soliciting signatures.
  • If the person is being paid on a pay-per-signature basis, the statement must say, "I am being paid $ (insert amount) for each signature I collect"
  • If the person is paid on an hourly basis, that statement must say, "I am being paid $(insert amount) per hour to collect these signatures." * HB 571 imposes a fine of $500 on anyone who fails to comply with its provisions.
  • HB 571 imposes a fine of $5,000 on "the person, corporation, organization, committee, or other entity" on behalf of whom a circulator found to be in violation is working.

The bill died in committee without seeing a full vote in the General Court.[3]

Defeatedd HB 572: (dead link) HB 572, carried over from 2009, would prohibit anyone from "engag[ing] in the collection of signatures for a initiative or referendum petition for money or any other thing of value."[4]. The bill died in committee without seeing a full vote in the General Court[5].

Defeatedd HB 573: HB 573 would increase the increase the number of signatures required in order to qualify an initiative for the ballot from 3% of the vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election to 3% of the number of registered voters in the state at the time of the state's most recent presidential election.[6]. The bill was killed in both House and Senate committees[7].

Defeatedd HB 679: (dead link) HB 679, which was carried over from 2009, says that any corporation doing business in Massachusetts that is related to health care services or insurance, and that makes a contribution to a ballot question committee (reportable under Chapter 55, Section 22) must return a credit to any members that is a pro-rated cost of those ballot question expenditures, if any member of the corporation so requests by objecting in writing to the expenditure. The bill died in committee without seeing a full vote in the General Court[8].

Defeatedd SB 23: (dead link) SB 23 would insert the words "The rights to freedom, equality, and civil liberties; the right of each individual to be protected by society in the enjoyment of life, Liberty and property, according to standing laws” into Section 2 of Part II, labeled "Initiative Petitions" in Article XLVIII, Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution. The bill died in committee without seeing a full vote in the General Court[9].

Defeatedd SB 357: SB 357 would amend Chapter 9 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by inserting, after Section 9A, this section:

Section 9B. There shall be in the department of the state secretary, but not under his supervision or control, a Ballot Question Title And Summary Statement Commission consisting of the state secretary or his or her designee, who shall serve as it’s chairperson, the attorney general or his or her designee, three persons designated by the governor. Persons designated by the governor will serve a term coterminous with the Governor’s and be expected to have received training and have experience in developing survey questions of a fair and unbiased nature, or be retired justices from the state court system, and in either instance not currently employees of the Commonwealth. Said Commission will receive draft titles and summaries from the attorney general for use on the state ballot and petition forms and prepare final titles and summaries for use by the state secretary. Upon receipt of said drafts from the attorney general, the Commission will circulate said drafts by electronic and other means within one business day and begin a ten day public comment period in order to solicit public and expert testimony on the merits of the draft and in order to solicit proposals for its possible improvement. Ten days following the close of the public comment period, the Commission will make available to the state secretary the completed title and summary language for printing on blank petitions by the state secretary to allow filing within the Constitutionally prescribed period. The Ballot Question Title And Summary Statement Commission shall also be responsible for drafting a 500 word explanatory statement describing the consequence of an affirmative and negative decision on the question described and submitting said statement to the state secretary for use in providing information to voters in preparation for the state election in which the question shall appear. As part of the drafting process, the Commission shall hold public hearings and receive public comment on the drafts submitted to the public for their consideration.
SECTION 2. Chapter 9 is further amended by inserting after Section 9B the following section:-
Section 9C. There shall be in the department of the state secretary, but not under his supervision or control, a Ballot Question Fiscal Impact Statement Commission consisting of the state secretary or his or her designee, who shall serve as it’s chairperson, the chairpersons and ranking minority members of the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means or their designees, the state treasurer or his or her designee, the secretary of administration and finance or his or her designee, and a person designated by the Massachusetts Municipal Association. The Ballot Question Fiscal Impact Statement Commission shall be responsible for drafting a 100 word explanatory statement describing the fiscal consequence for state and local government finances of an affirmative decision on the question described and submitting said statement to the state secretary for use in providing information to voters in preparation for the state election in which the question shall appear. As part of the drafting process, the Commission shall hold public hearings and receive public comment on the drafts submitted to the public for their consideration. If at least five Commission members can not agree on a final fiscal impact statement the following statement will be delivered for use by the state secretary: “The fiscal impact of this measure, if any, can not be reasonably determined at this time”
SECTION 3. Chapter 9 is further amended by inserting after Section 9C the following section:-
Section 9D. For the administration and support of activities authorized under Sections 9B and 9C of this Chapter, the state secretary may employ and assign such assistants and other employees as are required.
SECTION 4. Chapter 53 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting at the end of Section 7, the following:-
Subsection I: The state secretary shall further promulgate regulations governing the conduct of paid signature gatherers for ballot questions, designed to achieve and maintain security from forgery and fraud in the collection of such signatures on petitions for ballot questions and names thereon. Such regulations shall:
(a) prohibit companies paid to collect signatures for ballot petitions from contracting to do so for more than one ballot question in any two year election cycle;
(b) prohibit individual signature gatherers paid for such services from collecting signatures for more than one ballot question during the same twenty-four hour period;
(c) require individual signature gatherers paid for such services to display identification indicating the company or organization that is paying for the service, a phone number for that organization, and the individual collector’s state of residence;
(d) require that individual signature gatherers paid for such services sign a sworn oath upon submitting such signatures to the local registrar declaring that the signatures submitted were signed in their presence, and, to the best of their knowledge, the signatures submitted are names of qualified voters.
SECTION 5. Chapter 54 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after Section 53 the following section:-
Section 53A. The secretary of the Commonwealth shall publish the following on its website and in the information for voters material:
(a) the most recent list of the top 10 contributors to committees organized for the purpose of supporting and committees organized for the purpose of defeating a ballot question and all contributors to each committee organized for said purposes contributing above $5,000 in any one election cycle;
(b) the most recent contribution amount for each listed contributor;
(c) the address, employer, and occupation of each listed contributor;
(d) the most recent total of expenditures for each committee organized for the purpose of supporting or defeating a ballot question;
(e) a graph or chart depicting the percentage of all contributions made to all committees organized for the purpose of supporting and all committees organized for the purpose of defeating a ballot question. Such graph or chart should depict contributions in amounts under $50, between $50 and $199, between $200 and $999, between $1,000 and $9,999, and those above $10,000;
(f) the physical address and phone number of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance ("OCPF")
(g) OCPF's website address;
(h) a statement informing voters that they can access more information regarding the financial information of ballot question committees at OCPF's physical location or website.
SECTION 6. Chapter 55 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after Section 5B, subsection (a) ii, the following:-
(iii) whether the committee has been organized in support or in opposition to a specific ballot question
SECTION 7. Chapter 55 is further amended by inserting after Section 18 subsection (h) the following:-
(i) Notwithstanding the provisions of other clauses of this section, all contributions or aggregate contributions made to a ballot question committee in excess of $2,500 within 45 days of the election on which the ballot question appears, shall be reported to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance within 24 hours of receipt by the ballot question committee.

The bill was reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Election Laws on April 8, 2010[10]. However, the bill died without seeing a floor vote in either House of the General Court[10].