and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

April 5, 2005

Proposals for Legislative Constitutional Amendments

To:  Members of the Joint Committee on Election Laws
April 5, 2005

S.B. 13 – CLT OPPOSES this effort by Senator Rosenberg to kill the initiative petition process in Massachusetts. We have worked with volunteers collecting signatures on eleven initiative petitions and therefore know what we are talking about when we say that this amendment would end Massachusetts direct democracy, which was created by Democrats early last century and is now used and appreciated by voters from all sides of the political spectrum. We appreciate the previous rejection of this amendment by the Election Laws Committee, and the opposition of Secretary of State William Galvin. His Elections Division does an excellent job of working with the Initiative process in its current form.

S.B. 11 – CLT OPPOSES increasing the term of the General Court from two to four years. This is a very very bad idea, giving incumbents four years to raise money that could not be matched by a challenger, and voters four years to forget any bad behavior. CLT hopes that you will vote to keep the election process open fairly to all citizens.

S.B. 7 – CLT SUPPORTS the Paley Amendment to require respect for initiative petition laws. When citizens spend thousands of hours on street corners, at town dumps, at the mall collecting signatures, then vote on the ballot to create a law, this hard work and decision-making should be respected by elected representatives who did not adequately address the issue themselves. Though initiative laws can technically be repealed or amended like any other law, they should be given a higher consideration and a fair opportunity to work. This amendment allows changes to an initiative petition with the written support of a majority of the original signers certified by the Attorney General when the petition was filed, or the majority of voters on another statewide ballot.

As an example: when Proposition 2˝ passed 25 years ago this year, there were many bills filed to repeal or amend it. Citizens for Limited Taxation, as sponsors of that initiative petition, readily agreed with some recommended legislative changes: by working with the sponsors, the Legislature was able to improve the people’s law without violating their will. The legislative staffer, by the way, who so ably drafted the improvements, was Michael Capuano, now representing the 8th Congressional District!

S.B. 12 – CLT SUPPORTS Redistricting Reform. In the 21st Century, how else should redistricting be done, than with an independent commission, using computers? We commend Senator Moore for his leadership on this issue and are grateful for the hard work done by Common Cause to promote it.

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