2018 Information For Voters

QUESTION 2: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition

Commission on Limiting Election Spending and Corporate Rights

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives on or before May 2, 2018?

SUMMARY

This proposed law would create a citizens commission to consider and recommend potential amendments to the United States Constitution to establish that corporations do not have the same Constitutional rights as human beings and that campaign contributions and expenditures may be regulated.

Any resident of Massachusetts who is a United States citizen would be able to apply for appointment to the 15-member commission, and members would serve without compensation. The Governor, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the state Attorney General, the Speaker of the state House of Representatives, and the President of the state Senate would each appoint three members of the commission and, in making these appointments, would seek to ensure that the commission reflects a range of geographic, political, and demographic backgrounds.

The commission would be required to research and take testimony, and then issue a report regarding (1) the impact of political spending in Massachusetts; (2) any limitations on the state’s ability to regulate corporations and other entities in light of Supreme Court decisions that allow corporations to assert certain constitutional rights; (3) recommendations for constitutional amendments; (4) an analysis of constitutional amendments introduced to Congress; and (5) recommendations for advancing proposed amendments to the United States Constitution. 

The commission would be subject to the state Open Meeting Law and Public Records Law.  The commission’s first report would be due December 31, 2019, and the Secretary of the Commonwealth would be required to deliver the commission’s report to the state Legislature, the United States Congress, and the President of the United States. 

The proposed law states that, if any of its parts were declared invalid, the other parts would stay in effect. The proposed law would take effect on January 1, 2019.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would create a citizens commission to advance an amendment to the United States Constitution to limit the influence of money in elections and establish that corporations do not have the same rights as human beings.

A NO VOTE would not create this commission.

See full text of Question 2

STATEMENT OF FISCAL CONSEQUENCES

As required by law, statements of fiscal consequences are written by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

The proposed law has no discernible fiscal consequences for state and municipal government finances.

ARGUMENTS

As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

IN FAVOR: A YES vote advances an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to limit the influence of money in elections and ensure all Americans have an equal voice in our democracy.

Behind our nation’s challenges is a crisis of billionaires and special interests using money to buy access and influence with politicians. These special interests are well-represented, while most Americans are not.

The Supreme Court says that laws limiting political spending violate the First Amendment. Most Americans know this is incorrect: Money is not speech, it is power, and concentrated power requires checks and balances. 75% of Americans, including liberals and conservatives, support this amendment to correct the Court, with 19 states and over 200 Massachusetts communities formally calling for it.

This measure creates a non-partisan, unpaid Citizens Commission to be the people’s advocate for this amendment, with commissioners serving at no cost to taxpayers.

Jeff Clements
People Govern, Not Money
33 Bradford St.
Concord, MA 01742
978-254-6275
https://voteyeson2ma.org

AGAINST: The controversy surrounding the Citizens United decision hinges on our cherished right to Freedom of Speech. In the decision, the court ruled to expand that freedom and apply it equally to all entities and organizations, rather than just the arbitrary list of winners and losers selected by elected officials in previous campaign finance laws.

This is a good thing. The First Amendment protection of our Freedom of Speech is one of the pillars of our democracy and should be preserved and expanded at every possible opportunity. The less government standing in the way of the exercise of that right, the stronger it is.

However, even if you disagree with the Citizens United decision, an amendment to the United States Constitution is a dangerous and misguided way to go about undoing it. Please vote no on this question.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance
18 Tremont St., Suite 527
Boston, MA 02108
www.MassFiscal.org
www.MassFiscalScorecard.org