Ballot questions head to lawmakers
By Associated Press
Tuesday, January 4, 2000
BOSTON (AP) Nine proposed ballot questions asking voters' opinions on everything
from dog racing to the income tax will be forwarded this week to lawmakers after escaping
"It's intriguing there's not a challenge in sight at this point,"
Secretary of State William Galvin said Monday. "It looks like it's going to be an
extremely busy initiative year."
Galvin said activists appeared to have been extra careful gathering signatures,
and plenty of them, following a Supreme Court ruling last year.
The ruling said any stray markings could invalidate whole pages of petition
In response, some activists turned in two or three times the 57,100 signatures
Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci teamed up with Citizens
for Limited Taxation to gather more than 150,000 signatures to urge a
rollback in the state income tax to 5 percent. More than 30,000 were rejected, still
leaving an abundant surplus.
Two years ago, a tax cut proposal failed to make it on the ballot after the
liberal, union-backed Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts challenged the signatures. The
measure ultimately came up about 355 signatures short.
But this year, TEAM decided not to challenge the signatures.
Executive Director Jim St. George said the group planned to fight the measure's
merits, but not its signatures.
"We'll do it the way the system is meant to work. If people get enough
signatures, you have a pro and con," he said.
Two years ago, he said CLT had only 80 surplus signatures, which was difficult
enough to research and knock off. With thousands extra, he said, it did not make sense to
mount a challenge.
"I don't think there was any remote chance that you were going to find that
many mistakes," St. George said. "Our challenge two years ago showed people if
you cut it too close to the margin, you could be in trouble."
The Legislature will have the opportunity to act on the proposals this session,
which resumes Wednesday. If they don't approve them by May, activists can collect less
than 10,000 additional signatures to take their case to voters in November.
Other initiatives include proposals to ban the use of the most toxic pesticides
around schools; expand health care coverage; give tax breaks to those who pay tolls and
auto excise taxes; change drug forfeiture laws; increase tax deductions for charitable
giving; and force cable TV networks to offer Internet service through competing providers.
An initiative that is being forwarded to lawmakers, but wouldn't be on this
November's ballot, involves easing the restrictions on state aid to religious or private
The measure would need to be approved by two joint sittings of the House and
Senate before being forwarded to voters because it requires an amendment to the state
Also, the proposal is being debated in court after it was rejected by the attorney
general in his review of the questions.
Galvin said other initiatives could still be subject to court disputes, but none
of them were challenged for lack of qualified signatures.