and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

The following memo was hand-delivered to each member of the Joint Committee on Election Laws.
It was also sent as a news release to newspapers, radio and TV stations across the state.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Preserve the People's Initiative & Referendum Right

– MEMO --


The Joint Committee on Election Laws



Citizens for Limited Taxation, which has used volunteers to collected hundreds of thousands of signatures over the last 30 years to put several tax measures on the ballot.


June 3, 2009


H.559, H.571 and H.572 are silly attempts to kill the initiative petition process in Massachusetts.

The Initiative and Referendum process has been used in Massachusetts by people from all sides of the political spectrum for almost a century. These three bills would make it more difficult and costly for such individuals to collect signatures for a statewide ballot measure.

The obstacles are already daunting enough: The short time period, cold and rainy weather, the “stray marks” decision by the SJC, and other burdens make the use of I & R an onerous task at best.

Let’s make it clear why these bills were submitted: The Legislature with few exceptions, hates the fact that citizens can circumvent it by collecting signatures to put issues on the ballot. But the reason groups across the political spectrum use the petition process is because the Legislature failed to address their concerns.

Rapidly escalating property taxes in the 1970's and legislative inaction led to the passage of Proposition 2˝ on the 1980 ballot. You may not know that the signature collection on Proposition 2˝ only made it by a few hundred signatures. If these intrusive bills had been in effect in 1979 the petition drive would probably have failed. The result would have been property taxes at least double what they are now and special interests still screaming that homeowners aren’t paying enough.

We could get into other problems with these three bills such as legal challenges, suppression of free speech, and enforcement mechanisms. Are you sure the average citizen would rather see police spending their time hunting down petitioners without a sticker than deal with gangs, speeders and armed robbers?

We urge you to vote to preserve the people’s initiative petition process and vote “NO” on these three bills.

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