Press Release

Press Release AG’s Office Certifies 12 Initiative Petitions

Petitions Cover 11 Topics; Four Petitions Ineligible for Certification
For immediate release:
9/04/2019
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for AG’s Office Certifies 12 Initiative Petitions

Meggie Quackenbush

BostonAfter a thorough review of 16 initiative petitions submitted by the August 7 deadline, the Attorney General’s Office has determined that 12 proposals have met the requirements outlined in the Massachusetts constitution and may proceed to the next step in the process, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

The AG’s Office certified the 12 petitions, including 10 proposed laws and two proposed constitutional amendments. The certified petitions cover 11 topics, as some petitioners submitted multiple petitions on the same subject. The AG’s Office did not certify four of the initiative petitions because they did not meet the requirements outlined in Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution.

A list of the petitions and the AG’s certification decisions are available on the AG’s website. Letters explaining the AG’s decisions not to certify are also available on the website.

Today’s decisions are based strictly on the AG’s Office’s constitutional review under Article 48 and do not represent the office’s support or opposition to the merits of the petitions. The Massachusetts Constitution requires that proposed initiatives be in the proper form for submission to voters, not be substantially the same as any measure on the ballot in either of the two preceding statewide elections, contain only subjects that are related to each other or mutually dependent, and not involve a narrow set of subjects that are specifically excluded from the ballot initiative process by the Massachusetts Constitution.

For example, a petition cannot be approved if it relates to religion, religious practices or religious institutions; the powers, creation or abolition of the courts; the appointment, compensation or tenure of judges; a specific appropriation of funds from the state treasury; or if it infringes on other protected constitutional rights, such as trial by jury, freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

Proponents of the proposed laws must now gather and file the signatures of 80,239 registered voters by Dec. 4, 2019. Once these signatures are collected, the proposal will be sent to the state Legislature to enact before May 6, 2020. If the Legislature fails to enact a proposal, proponents must gather 13,374 additional signatures from registered voters by July 1, 2020 to place the initiative on the November 2020 ballot.         

The process for proposed constitutional amendments is different, requiring approval by at least 25 percent of two joint sessions of the Legislature before appearing on the November 2022 ballot.

Voters or petitioners who take issue with the AG’s certification decisions can ask the Supreme Judicial Court for a review.

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Media Contact for AG’s Office Certifies 12 Initiative Petitions

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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