State signature deadline for Massachusetts 2022 initiatives was Wednesday

Three initiative campaigns submitted more than the required number of validated signatures (80,239) to the Massachusetts secretary of state on Dec. 1. This means that the initiatives will go to the Massachusetts General Court. If the general court does not enact the initiatives, a smaller second round of signatures will be required to put the measures on the 2022 ballot.

The preliminary deadline to submit signatures for verification to local registrars before submitting them to the secretary of state was Nov. 17.

One initiative would classify app-based drivers as independent contractors and enact several labor policies related to app-based companies. One initiative would incrementally increase the number of alcohol licenses an establishment could hold and prohibit self-checkout sales of alcohol. The third initiative would enact a medical loss ratio for dental benefit plans of 83%.

Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work is sponsoring the app-based drivers initiative and reported submitting over 130,000 signatures to local registrars. The final number of certified signatures submitted to the secretary of state on Wednesday is unknown.

The Massachusetts Package Stores Association (MPSA) is sponsoring the alcohol retail licensing initiative and reported submitting 109,000 certified signatures to the secretary of state.

Dr. Mouhab Rizkallah filed the dental medical loss ratio question and reported submitting 104,000 validated signatures to the secretary of state. 

The power of initiative is indirect in Massachusetts, which means the Massachusetts General Court must consider any successful initiative petitions.

Once enough valid signatures are submitted, proposed statutory initiatives are presented to the legislature. Statutes may be adopted by the legislature by a majority vote in both houses. If a statute proposed by a valid initiative petition is not adopted, proponents must collect another, smaller round of signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. For the first round of signatures, the required number is equal to 3% of the votes cast for governor or 80,239 signatures. The second round total is equal to 0.5% of the votes cast for governor or 13,374 signatures.

Once the secretary of state certifies the initiative petitions to the state legislature, they have until May 4, 2022, to pass them or send them to the 2022 ballot. The deadline for the second round of signatures would be July 6, 2022.

Between 2016 and 2021, 109 initiatives were filed in Massachusetts. Of that total, 72 were cleared for circulation, and nine were certified for the ballot.