To: Members of the General Court
April 1, 2008
What fools some legislators must think we citizens be!
H.712, to prohibit compensating people for signatures
obtained on initiative and referendum petitions. First of
all, this has been tried elsewhere and judged
unconstitutional. Second, though second isn’t necessary when
something is unconstitutional, CLT has never paid
petitioners, mostly because we don’t have the money, but so
what if we did? The point is to place an issue before the
voters, who can then hear debate on both sides and make a
decision to create or repeal a law.
S.436, to strengthen petition anti-fraud safeguards,
which recognizes it cannot prohibit compensating people for
signatures, but tries to address "fraud." While a few
petitioners may try to mislead signers, all the latter have
to do is read the top of the petition, where the Secretary
of State prints an official summary. As CLT’s Chip Faulkner
has noted, you have to have the IQ of an eggplant to sign
the wrong petition. Most of us petition signers know exactly
what we are doing: placing a controversial issue on the
ballot for voters to decide after much debate.
If everyone is concerned about fraud, how about a bill
preventing a candidate for governor from telling voters he
will create property tax relief, and he won’t support a gas
tax because gas is over $2 a gallon – without telling voters
that "property tax relief" will be a meals tax and casinos,
and he will consider a gas tax when gas is over $3 a gallon?
Speaking of property taxes: H.4534, the bill
exempting senior citizens from paying Prop 2˝ overrides that
was passed by the House is bad enough. Now, with many
Senators balking at making families pay the seniors’ share,
some proponents want to expand the bill to exempt even
more voters from the tax increase! We say "No
representation without taxation." And are happy that
legislative leaders are considering vital reforms instead of
broad tax hikes.
CLT applauds the DiMasi proposal for a Municipal Audit
Bureau to oversee local aid, and hopes this bureau will
be controlled by the Division of Local Services. We applaud
proposals to limit police details; as CLT’s Chip Ford
predicts, "Once the first flagman plants his flag in the
soil of Massachusetts, the iron grip of police union
intimidation will have been finally broken." Then perhaps
you can also remove the union veto from community
decision-making on health insurance and pensions.