Legalization of medical marijuana, physician assisted suicide, the formation of a citizen led pannel to investigate the 9/11 attacks, and an effort to repeal the individual mandate in the Massachusetts health care law; are likely the most high profile issues now a step closer to being decided by voters in 2012.
The Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced last Wednesday, that they have completed a review of thirty -one petitions for ballot initiatives submitted by Bay State voters,including one proposed amendment to the state constitution. Twenty-three of the measures were certified and will be permited to move forward on the costly and often torturous road towards appearing on statewide ballots next year.
In addition to the more hot-button issues other matters more specific to Massachusetts such as an update of the state’s bottle law, a cap on sewage and water fees, allowing supermarkets and grocery stores to sell beer and wine, four of six petitions extending the ‘Do Not Call law’ to those affiliated with charities, and a constitutional amendment requiring the state to take action to ensure every resident has affordable good quality health insurance were also granted certification.
Eight other proposals were not certified such as a voter ID law, establishing Casino gambling at three locations in the state, two petitions relating to the state’s ‘Do Not Call law’, two efforts to alter or repeal a portion of the Massachusetts abuse prevention laws, an issue on regional planning, and a proposal on renewable energy.
Under Commonwealth law a petition can not be certified if it appeared on the ballot in the past two elections, or if it relates to: religion, the courts or judicial system, is aimed at a specific location in the Commonwealth, an appropriation of funds by the state, or infringes upon other protections enumerated in the Commonwealth Constitution’s Declaration of Rights.
Massachusetts is one of twenty-four states where qualified voters with the signatures of fellow voters, are allowed to get proposals for ballot initiatives or referendums to be put before voters come election time.
Next those proponents engineering the petitions will have to submit the summaries of their proposed laws as well as the certified petition to the Commonwealth’s Secretary of State who will then provide them with another petition form on which they must submit by November the legitimate signatures of some 68,911 qualified Massachusetts voters.
I will outline the specific measures and issues in a piece or series of pieces soon.