Deadline leads to filing of 30 possible ballot questions

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Three dozen groups filed a total of 30 initiative petitions with Attorney General Maura Healey’s office by the end-of-day deadline Wednesday, kicking off a months-long process that will determine which proposed laws and constitutional amendments go before voters.

In addition to questions that supporters unveiled in recent days with public campaign launches, sponsors submitted proposals that would require all elections in Massachusetts to use hand-counted paper ballots, legalize the sale of consumer fireworks, require the state to make legal assistance available in eviction proceedings, and once again permit certain “happy hour” drink specials that have been banned since 1984.

Several groups filed multiple versions of their question on a single topic, including those seeking a voter ID requirement and an overhaul of the status and benefits for app-based drivers. Proponents sometimes submit several varying versions of their question to keep options open during initial steps of the process. One of the two proposed constitutional amendments would declare that corporations are not people and that state lawmakers can limit political spending and contributions. The other, aimed at conflicts of interest, would require public officials in Massachusetts to file regular financial disclosures and tax returns. The attorney general’s office will review each initiative petition to determine if they meet necessary constitutional requirements.

In 2019, Healey certified 12 of the 16 questions submitted, and two questions eventually made it to the ballot in 2020. Healey plans to publish a list of certified petitions by Sept. 1., and voters can ask the Supreme Judicial Court to review her decisions. After that, supporters of petitions still in the running would then need to collect signatures from 80,239 registered voters and file them with local elections officials by Nov. 17. Healey’s office said it received a total of 28 proposed laws and two proposed constitutional amendments.

Citizen-sponsored constitutional amendments require approval by at least 25 percent of two consecutive joint sessions of the Legislature, which means they could appear on the ballot no earlier than 2024.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Only on WWLP.com | Digital First

More Digital First

Trending Stories

Donate Today