April 10, 2003
Coalition to Protect Citizen Initiatives
Since its adoption in 1918, the initiative
petition process has given Massachusetts citizens a direct voice in their
government. Now, even more
than at its adoption, the citizen initiative process is an essential tool
for compelling the legislature to address issues it canít or wonít
consider. Initiatives have
resulted in the Bottle Bill, anti-smoking programs, the campaign finance
office, the state Ethics Commission, the Financial Disclosure Law and
conflict of interest laws, many campaign finance reforms, Proposition 2Ĺ,
tax rollbacks, and defeat of tax rollbacks.
We believe the
citizens of Massachusetts need an initiative petition process they can
use, particularly in an era of increasingly unresponsive government:
signature requirements in the bills will increase the use of paid
signature gatherers, increase fraud, place additional burdens on
cities and towns, and impinge on the rights of citizens to use the
ballot initiative process is already the most restrictive in the
country, with stringent limitations on what issues can be addressed by
initiative petition, requirements for legislative review and
negotiation with proponents, and the shortest collection window in the
titles and summaries currently prepared by the Attorney General and
Secretary of State have been cited by several national observers of
the initiative process as some of the best in the nation.
They have been fair, neutral, and accurate, as required by the
constitution, and have been infrequently challenged in court.
By making the process of setting summaries, titles, and
explanations a political one, including political pollsters in the
process, titles and summaries will be less rather than more accurate,
neutral, and fair. Litigation
is sure to increase.
bills come at a time when the legislature is hostile to the initiative
process, ignoring or repealing three recent ballot questions (clean
elections, tax roll back, charitable deductions).
For these reasons, among
others, we strongly oppose S-362 and S-363.
|Common Cause Mass.
||Citizens for Limited Taxation
GREY 2K USA
||Ballot Initiative Strategy Center
Sierra Club of Mass.
||Mass. Voters for Clean Elections