Thursday, September 8, 2011

AG Certifies 23 Citizen Initiative Ballot Questions

Today Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced the certification of 22 of 30 possible ballot questions for 2012 and 1 possible constitutional amendment for the 2014 ballot, thus allowing the citizen initiative petition process to advance to the signature gathering stage. Proponents must now collect an additional 68,911 signatures to be filed for certification by mid-November.

Some of the potential ballot questions include the amending of the “Do Not Call List” law, limiting the amount by which water and sewer rates may be raised, permitting the use of medical marijuana, the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores, and the evaluation of teacher performances. Many of the initiative petition sponsors have submitted multiple versions of a petition on the same topic. To view a list of the certified proposed ballot questions please click here. To read a summary of the steps of the citizen petition process please click “Read more”.

The basic steps for a proposed law are:

1. the initiative measure is signed by ten voters and submitted to the Attorney General by the first Wednesday in August (August 3, 2011);

2. the Attorney General determines (usually by the first Wednesday in September, i.e., September 7, 2011) whether the measure meets the requirements of Amendment Article 48;

3. if certified by the Attorney General, the measure is filed with the Secretary of State;

4. thousands of additional voter signatures are gathered (this year, the requirement is 68,911) and filed with local election officials by late November and then with the Secretary of State by the first Wednesday in December;

5. if enough are gathered, the measure is sent to the Legislature in January of 2012;

6. the Legislature either approves or disapproves the measure, proposes a substitute, or takes no action;

7. unless the Legislature has enacted the measure before the first Wednesday in May of 2012, the proponents gather still more signatures (this year, 11,485 signatures are required) by early July;

8. if they gather enough, the measure and any legislative substitute are submitted to the people at the next biennial state election (in this case, November of 2012).

Additional information on the petitions or petition process can be located at on the Attorney General Website. You may access this location by clicking here.