and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation


April 10, 2003

Statement of the
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:  

  • The citizen initiative process is an important check on a legislature that is increasingly unresponsive to the people.

  • S-362 and 363 effectively eviscerate the citizen initiative process, by making it virtually impossible to qualify initiative petitions for the ballot without the use of paid signature gathers.

  • Increased 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 process.

  • Massachusetts 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 nation.

  • 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.

  • The 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


MASSPIRG Ballot Initiative Strategy Center

Sierra Club of Mass.

CPPAX Mass. Voters for Clean Elections

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