and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Thursday, January 8, 2004

CLT to file bill to save communities money, too

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Anderson – (508) 384-0100

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday to let the Senate schedule a special election from the time a senator is vacant only in her own head. But the Constitution is clear:

Article IV of Chapter I, Sect. II unambiguously states: "... all vacancies in the senate, arising by death, removal out of the state, or otherwise, shall be supplied as soon as may be, after such vacancies shall happen."

In deciding with the full court that the word “vacancy” is subject to interpretation, Justice Martha Sosman called this a “slight grammatical ambiguity.” Ambiguity my jackass, whose party is given unfair advantage because the high court is afraid to tell the Senate that it must obey the state Constitution.

Look at the chair next to yours. Is it vacant, or is it not? What is ambiguous about this?

Offhand, we cannot recall a recent SJC decision that defended the state Constitution (see last month’s decision that the Legislature needn’t vote on an initiative amendment regardless of how clearly Art. 48 of the Constitutional mandates that it does). So this new “hang the Constitution” decision doesn’t come as any surprise to most of us.

There is one good thing about it, though. The stated Democratic Party concern about added election costs to a few communities should the Constitution be obeyed warmed our hearts, and provided us inspiration.

CLT intends to file a bill which will satisfy the fiscal concern of those 34 concerned Democrats and the concerned state Democratic Party.

“An Act to Limit the Financial Burden of Special Elections” will propose a law that requires all future Proposition 2˝ override votes in any of the 351 cities and towns of the Commonwealth to be taken only during the next regular municipal or state election.

Presently, towns across the Commonwealth hold special elections for overrides; and if the override is rejected, sometimes they call another special election within months in the same year to try it again!

The CLT bill will require them to get their act together and plan their overrides for the annual town election, or use the state primary or general elections. This will maximize turnout as well as saving money.

Surely Senate Democrats will unanimously support this municipal cost savings.

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