16 initiatives filed in Massachusetts targeting 2020 and 2022 ballots

Sixteen initiatives targeting the 2020 and 2022 ballot were filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office by the August 7, 2019, deadline. Thirteen of the 16 measures are statutory and may appear on the 2020 ballot. Three of the measures would amend the state constitution, and the soonest they could appear on the ballot is 2022.
The process:
After an application is submitted, the attorney general must review the proposal to ensure that it complies with the state’s subject restrictions. If it complies, proponents then submit the petition to the secretary of the commonwealth, and he or she drafts a summary of the proposed law to be included on the official petition form. This summary must be approved by the attorney general. The attorney general’s office is set to announce certification decisions on September 4, 2019.
The requirements to get an initiated state statute certified for the 2020 ballot:
  • Signatures required (first round): 80,239 signatures
  • Signatures required (second round): 13,374 signatures
  • Deadline (first round): The deadline to submit the first round of signatures to the secretary of state is December 4, 2019. Signatures need to be submitted to local registrars by November 20, 2019.
  • Deadline (second round): The deadline to submit the second round of signatures is July 1, 2020.
If enough signatures are submitted in the first round, the legislature must act on a successful petition by the first Wednesday of May. The measure only goes on the ballot if the legislature does not pass it and if the second round of signatures is successfully collected.
The requirements to get an initiated constitutional amendment certified for the 2022 ballot:
  • Valid signatures required: 80,239 valid signatures
  • Deadline (2019 petitions): The deadline to submit signatures for consideration by the legislature in 2020 and 2021 sessions is December 4, 2019.
  • Deadline (2020 petitions): The deadline to submit signatures for consideration by the legislature in 2021 and 2022 sessions is December 2, 2020.
If enough signatures are submitted by the deadline, the initiative goes to the legislature, where it must garner the approval of 25 percent of all lawmakers, with senators and representatives voting jointly, in two successive sessions. If this requirement is met, the initiative goes on the ballot at the next general election. Because of this unique requirement, the earliest an initiated constitutional amendment can reach the ballot is two years following signature submission. And, depending on the year, it can be three years after signature submission before voters decide on the measure.
Filed petitions:
2020 statutes:
  • #19-02 would implement storage requirements for firearms.
  • #19-04 and 19-05 would ban the use of electric shocks to punish or change behavior in disabled individuals, specifically at Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts.
  • #19-06, named the “Right to Repair” initiative by proponents, concerns access to mechanical data in a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics or telematics system.
  • #19-08 enacts limits on campaign contributions from non-residents and out-of-state PACs.
  • #19-09 determines whale-safe status and bans certain fishing equipment.
  • #19-10 enacts a ranked-choice voting system in Massachusetts.
  • #19-11 changes the formula for Medicaid ratemaking for nursing homes.
  • #19-12 enacts a top-two primary system for elections in Massachusetts.
  • #19-13 establishes the Reducing Risks of Technology Commission.
  • #19-14 allows food stores to sell beer and wine.
  • #19-15 allows law enforcement officers to detain a person and transfer custody of the person to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under certain circumstances.
  • #19-16 prohibits public employees from accruing more than 1,000 hours of unused sick leave
2022 constitutional amendments:
  • #19-01 amends the constitution to say “Nothing in this constitution requires the public funding of abortion.”
  • #19-03 restores the right to vote to incarcerated individuals convicted of a felony.
  • #19-07 excludes corporations from the definition of people and allows the Massachusetts General Court to regulate and set limits on political contributions and expenditures.
In the ten-year period from 1998 to 2018, 32 citizen initiatives appeared on the statewide ballot in Massachusetts, of which 15 were approved and 17 were defeated. Between 1998 and 2018, an average of three measures appeared on the ballot in Massachusetts during even-numbered election years.
Additional reading: