The Massachusetts Joint Election Laws Committee will hear HB 1830 and SB 13 on March 23, Wednesday, at 1:30 p.m. These are identical bills to increase the number of signatures for a statewide initiative from 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, to 7% of the last gubernatorial vote. Currently, the Massachusetts statewide initiative process to change ordinary laws requires fewer signatures (as a percentage of the state’s population) than any other state.

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An Eliot Street resident plans to make a move this week to try to recall members of the Board of Selectmen. Jim Hanna said he plans to get the necessary paperwork from Town Hall this week to conduct the recall. Town bylaws dictate that residents can recall local elected officials by submitting an affidavit with 500 voter signatures, followed by another petition with the signatures of a quarter of town voters.

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The organizers behind an initiative to change Falmouth’s current form of government will not be able to gather the required number of signatures to put the question put to voters in May. The group, headed up by F. Bradley Stumcke Jr. of Sailfish Drive, East Falmouth, needed to obtain signatures of 3,872 registered voters, or 15 percent of the electorate, to place the question on the ballot.

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With jobs scarce and many families just scraping by, taxes have taken center stage this political season. In Tuesday’s election, Massachusetts voters will have two opportunities to lower them. Two ballot questions are aimed at sales tax increases adopted last year as the state struggled to meet budget demands. The most far reaching, Question 3, would reduce the state’s sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent.

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We’ve compiled the ballot question stances of all the candidates for state offices in the Merrimack Valley. Candidates were given the option to explain their position, but asked to keep explanations brief.

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The Boston Globe had an editorial yesterday supporting the initiative & referendum process:


The following alert has been circulating amongst good-government groups in Massachusetts. If you live in Massachusetts, please contact your legislators and tell them to vote no on SB 23 / HB 3537:

Proponents behind the initiative that would limit clean energy development in Massachusetts have no option now but to push for its inclusion on the November ballot, after the State Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy decided May 7 not to make the initiative’s language law.

A group of Massachusetts mayors, fed up with what they say is legislative inaction on skyrocketing municipal health care costs, has launched a ballot initiative for 2012 aimed at giving cities and towns more flexibility in reducing expensive benefits for employees, retirees, and elected officials. Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston hosted a strategy session of about 20 mayors in City Hall Friday. The group emerged with a proposal to allow communities to reduce benefits without union negotiations.

Former state education board chairman James Peyser, leading an effort to lift the statewide cap on charter school enrollment and spending, said Tuesday he believes his supporters have gathered enough signatures to put such a measure on the 2010 ballot. Peyser said the group submitted about 100,000 raw signatures to city and town clerks, and he expects more than 70,000 will ultimately be certified, well above the 66,593 minimum required.

Massachusetts voters won’t be able to decide a proposed ballot question to eliminate highway, bridge and tunnel tolls but could still weigh in on other questions, from rolling back the state income tax to tightening regulations on wood-burning power plants.

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Activists pushing a slew of potential ballot questions are racing to file voter signatures with local city and town clerks. Wednesday is the deadline for activists to submit tens of thousands of signatures in support of their initiatives. Once those signatures are certified at the local level, activists have until Dec. 2 to deliver them to Sec. of State William Galvin’s office.

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Voters in Revere, Mass., on Tuesday rejected a ballot initiative that would have overturned a policy allowing the high school’s health clinic to make contraception available, including condoms and emergency contraception, the Boston Globe reports. The initiative — defeated in a 3,404-2,695 vote — was put on the ballot in September by a group of Revere residents who objected to the contraception policy.

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Opponents of the biomass plants proposed for Greenfield and Russell are gathering signatures for an initiative petition that could place a question on next November’s election ballot - effectively gutting the projects.

Efforts to put an advisory charter question before local voters is going to have to wait. State election officials have advised cities and towns that municipal advisory questions cannot be placed on the state ballot for the special U.S. Senate election in January, to fill the seat vacated with the death of Edward M. Kennedy.

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