BOSTON – On August 2, state Representative Mike Connolly, a socialist from Cambridge, filed paperwork with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) for a ballot question that would, among other things, enact government-imposed rent control. Rep. Connolly’s ballot question also included other policies, such as allowing cities and towns to pass new rules regulating evictions. The ballot question seeks to overturn the will of the voters, who in 1994 voted to outlaw government-imposed rent control. Rep. Connolly was one of 15 individuals who signed the rent control ballot question proposal, which may be found by clicking here.
The ballot question certification process is closely regulated by Amendment Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution. As part of that certification process, the AGO reviews legal arguments filed in support of and in opposition to potential ballot questions. Today, the Fiscal Alliance Foundation submitted comments in opposition to Rep. Connolly’s ballot question, which may be found by clicking here. On September 6, the AGO will make public which ballot questions can proceed forward to the signature gathering phase.
The Fiscal Alliance Foundation’s written comments argue that Rep. Connolly’s proposed ballot question cannot be certified as a matter of law because it violates two different constitutional requirements of Article 48: the “excluded matters” clause (which prohibits ballot questions that create takings of property without just compensation), and the “related subjects” requirement (which prohibits multiple unrelated policy proposals from appearing in the same ballot question).
“The government imposed rent control ballot question proposed by state Rep. Mike Connolly is poor policy and poorly written. Economically speaking, it has been proven that rent control doesn’t work, and our written comments detail exactly why this potential ballot question would be unconstitutional,” stated Paul Diego Craney, spokesperson for the Fiscal Alliance Foundation.
“It would be unlawful for this ballot question to go forward and the AGO and Supreme Judicial Court have rejected other ballot questions for the same reasons we outline in our written comments. Our comments explain in detail why Rep. Connolly’s potential ballot question would harm some taxpayers by essentially taking their property without just compensation. Our comments also explain that the ballot question violates the requirements set forth in the Massachusetts Constitution that prohibit unrelated policy proposals from being combined in one ballot question. Rep. Connolly’s poorly written ballot question forces voters to take a Yes or No position on multiple unrelated policies at once. It is abundantly clear this unlawful and poorly written ballot question should not, and legally cannot advance any further. We hope the AGO will agree,” concluded Craney.
The Fiscal Alliance Foundation also submitted written comments against several ballot questions that include Ranked Choice Voting (04, 07, and 08). On August 18, the Fiscal Alliance Foundation offered a reply to the proponents.