Massachusetts, USA, regional Agenda (setting) initiative [PAX] - The Initiative (amendment)

General Typology

Instrument
Agenda (setting) initiative [PAX]
Location
Massachusetts, USA
Political level
regional
Local Name:
The Initiative (amendment)
Normative Level:
constitutional
Legally Binding:
yes
Legally Defined:

Massachusetts Constitution
Article XLVIII, Part I
Legislative power shall continue to be vested in the general court; but the people reserve to themselves the popular initiative, which is the power of a specified number of voters to submit constitutional amendments and laws to the people for approval or rejection [...]

Article LXXXI, Section 1
[...] If a proposal for a specific amendment of the constitution is introduced into the general court by initiative petition signed in the aggregate by not less than such number of voters as will equal three per cent of the entire vote cast for governor at the preceding biennial state election, [...] such proposal shall, not later than the second Wednesday in May, be laid before a joint session of the two houses, at which the president of the senate shall preside; and if the two houses fail to agree upon a time for holding any joint session hereby required, or fail to continue the same from time to time until final action has been taken upon all amendments pending, the governor shall call such joint session or continuance thereof.

Article XLVIII, Part IV
[...]
Section 4.[...] At such joint session [...] an initiative amendment receiving the affirmative votes of not less than one-fourth of all the members elected, shall be referred to the next general court.
Section 5. Submission to the People. If in the next general court [...] an initiative amendment or a legislative substitute shall again receive the affirmative votes of at least one-fourth of all the members elected, such fact shall be certified by the clerk of such joint session to the secretary of the commonwealth, who shall submit the amendment to the people at the next state election. Such amendment shall become part of the constitution if approved [...] in the case of an initiative amendment or a legislative substitute, by voters equal in number to at least thirty per cent of the total number of ballots cast at such state election and also by a majority of the voters voting on such amendment.

Source: Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (accessed 22 June 2017)

Subject Matter:

Submitting amendments to the state constitution to legislative rejection or ballot question via initiative

Actors

Author:
Citizen : Requires 10 signatures to file petition before collecting signatures. Then 3% of the number of votes for governor at the last gubernatorial election (Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXIV, Section 1).
Initiator:
Electorate : 3% of the number of votes for governor at the last gubernatorial election (Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXXI, Section 1).
Decision maker:
Legislature : The initiative must pass by affirmative votes of 1/4 in a joint session of legislature for 2 consecutive sessions in order to be submitted to the people (Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Part IV, Section 4). -- For the instrument concerning the effects of legislative approval, see Massachusetts MTP: Completion of The Initiative (amendment).

Requirements

Number Of Signatures:
Requires 10 signatures to file petition before collecting signatures. Then 3% of the number of votes for governor at the last gubernatorial election (Massachusetts Constitution, Article LXXIV, Section 1; Article LXXXI, Section 1).
Available Time:
First 10 signatures may be filed with the secretary of the commonwealth beginning with the first Wednesday of the September before the legislative session and the remaining signatures must be filed by the first Wednesday of the next December.
Geographical Quorum:
Legal source does not mention geographical quorum for passing. No more than 25% of the signatures may come from any one county (Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, "General Provisions")
Excluded Issues:

Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Part II, Section 2
Excluded Matters. - No measure that relates to religion, religious practices or religious institutions; or to the appointment, qualification, tenure, removal, recall or compensation of judges; or to the reversal of a judicial decision; or to the powers, creation or abolition of courts; or the operation of which is restricted to a particular town, city or other political division or to particular districts or localities of the commonwealth; or that makes a specific appropriation of money from the treasury of the commonwealth, shall be proposed by an initiative petition; but if a law approved by the people is not repealed, the general court shall raise by taxation or otherwise and shall appropriate such money as may be necessary to carry such law into effect.
Neither the eighteenth amendment of the constitution, as approved and ratified to take effect on the first day of October in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, nor this provision for its protection, shall be the subject of an initiative amendment.
No proposition inconsistent with any one of the following rights of the individual, as at present declared in the declaration of rights, shall be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition: The right to receive compensation for private property appropriated to public use; the right of access to and protection in courts of justice; the right of trial by jury; protection from unreasonable search, unreasonable bail and the law martial; freedom of the press; freedom of speech; freedom of elections; and the right of peaceable assembly.
No part of the constitution specifically excluding any matter from the operation of the popular initiative and referendum shall be the subject of an initiative petition; nor shall this section be the subject of such a petition.
[...]
Article LXXIV, Section 1
[The attorney general] shall certify that the measure and the title thereof are in proper form for submission to the people, and that the measure is not, either affirmatively or negatively, substantially the same as any measure which has been qualified for submission or submitted to the people at either of the two preceding biennial state elections [...]

Souce: Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (accessed 22 June 2017)

Other Formal Requirements:

Article LXXIV, Section 1
[...] Such petition shall first be signed by ten qualified voters of the commonwealth and shall be submitted to the attorney-general not later than the first Wednesday of the August before the assembling of the general court into which it is to be introduced [...]

Source: Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (accessed 22 June 2017)

Procedural Elements

Collection Mode:
free
Specify Collection Mode:

Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Part II, Section 1
Contents. An initiative petition shall set forth the full text of the constitutional amendment or law, hereinafter designated as the measure, which is proposed by the petition.

Article LXXIV, Section 1
[...]The secretary of the commonwealth shall provide blanks for the use of subsequent signers, and shall print at the top of each blank a fair, concise summary, as determined by the attorney-general, of the proposed measure as such summary will appear on the ballot together with the names and residences of the first ten signers. [...]

Source: Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (accessed 22 June 2017)

Interaction With Authorities:

Massachusetts Constitution
Article LXXIV, Section 1
[...] Such petition shall first be signed by ten qualified voters of the commonwealth and shall be submitted to the attorney-general not later than the first Wednesday of the August before the assembling of the general court into which it is to be introduced, and if he shall certify [that the petition is not precluded by other parts of this constiution (see Excluded Issues)], it may then be filed with the secretary of the commonwealth. [...] All initiative petitions, with the first ten signatures attached, shall be filed with the secretary of the commonwealth not earlier than the first Wednesday of the September before the assembling of the general court into which they are to be introduced, and the remainder of the required signatures shall be filed not later than the first Wednesday of the following December. [...]

Article XLVIII
Part II, Section 4
Transmission to the General Court. - If an initiative petition, signed by the required number of qualified voters, has been filed as aforesaid, the secretary of the commonwealth shall, upon the assembling of the general court, transmit it to the clerk of the house of representatives, and the proposed measure shall then be deemed to be introduced and pending.

III. Legislative Action. General Provisions
Section 1. Reference to Committee. - If a measure is introduced into the general court by initiative petition, it shall be referred to a committee thereof, and the petitioners and all parties in interest shall be heard, and the measure shall be considered and reported upon to the general court with the committee's recommendations, and the reasons therefor, in writing. Majority and minority reports shall be signed by the members of said committee.
Section 2. Legislative Substitutes. - The general court may, by resolution passed by yea and nay vote, either by the two houses separately, or in the case of a constitutional amendment by a majority of those voting thereon in joint session in each of two years as hereinafter provided, submit to the people a substitute for any measure introduced by initiative petition, such substitute to be designated on the ballot as the legislative substitute for such an initiative measure and to be grouped with it as an alternative therefor.

IV. Legislative Action on Proposed Constitutional Amendments
[...]
Section 3
A proposal for an amendment to the constitution introduced by initiative petition shall be voted upon in the form in which it was introduced, unless such amendment is amended by vote of three-fourths of the members voting thereon in joint session [...]


Source: Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (accessed 22 June 2017)

Supervision And Support:
Transparency And Finance:

Practice

Archive:
Remarks: