Wednesday, July 18, 2007

H159:  Prop 2˝ end run -- act now!

Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

A most serious threat to Proposition 2˝ and democracy itself in Massachusetts has again just come to our attention.  We fended it off last year, but then we had Gov. Romney as the state's chief executive with his power of the veto pen.  The Legislature needed a two-thirds vote to override.  We may not be so lucky any more.

"An Act Relative to Special Development Districts," House Bill #159, will likely soon come up for a vote in the state Legislature.  Not only will it circumvent Prop 2˝ -- it will create an entire new level of government; of, by, and for the developers, giving them the independent power to tax.  To tax, not subject to the restraints of Proposition 2˝.

The length of this bill --twenty-nine (29) pages -- exceeds the Declaration of Independence, challenges even the length of the U.S. Constitution!  The first five (5) pages merely lay out the "definition" of terms used throughout the remainder of the proposal.

As you know, CLT often aligns itself with groups and organizations from across the political spectrum when our causes are in sync.  This was recently brought to our attention by the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities.  We've been researching it since.

According to MCHC:  "Chapter 40T would allow unelected panels hand-picked by developers to assume the powers of a municipal government, taxing without regard for Proposition 2˝ and substituting panel votes for those of the voters themselves."

Last year, we fended off a similar proposal.  (See CLT's Memo to the Legislature, and News Release, Jul. 19, 2006:  "Economic Stimulus Bill:  Governor’s Veto of Section 41")

This year on  June 11 the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business quietly held a hearing on H-159 then issued a favorable report -- sent it on to Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.  There it awaits release to the House floor later this month, soon, for a final vote.

After reviewing the document, I don't expect any if many legislators have read it or can possibly understand its legalese ramifications.  You'll have a leg up on them when you contact their offices!  And that's what you need to do, right now.  Immediately.

Call and tell your state rep and senator to vote it down, vote no on H-159, kill it.

-- Find my state representative and state senator --

To circumvent Proposition 2˝ an entirely new taxing authority -- on top of all the others -- is being proposed.

From H159:


50- The infrastructure assessments established by the assessing
51 - party shall not be subject to supervision or regulation by any
52- department, division, commission, board, bureau, or agency of the
53- commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, including
54- without limitation, the municipality, if it is not the assessing party,
55- nor shall the assessing party be subject to the provisions of sections
56- 20A and 21C of chapter 59.

Sections 20A and 21C of chapter 59 is the very heart of Proposition 2˝.

We can't let this happen on our watch.  It's easier to stop a bad law than get rid of one later.  Now is the time to act.

From the MCHC website:

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1938

Chip Ford


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