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The Referenda: From One to Six

The 1990 Election



This proposed constitutional amendment would repeal the constitutional provision that a state census be taken and used as the basis for determining state representative, senatorial and councillor districts. The proposed constitutional amendment would provide that the federal census shall be the basis for determining such districts.


The proposed law would place restrictions on the state's use of consultants. It would place various limits on the amount of profit, overhead charges and expenses that the state could pay consultants. It would limit the duration of consultant contracts to two years and any extension to one year, and it would limit the degree to which such contracts could be changed to require payments in excess of the original contract. The proposed law would limit to $100,000 the amount the state could pay on a consultant contract with an individual and would require all other consultant contracts in excess of $25,000 to be sought through competitive bidding. It would prohibit consultants from supervising state employees, and it would limit the use of consultants as substitutes for state employee positions.

In addition, the proposed law would place limits on the total amount of money state agencies, departments and authorities could spend on consultants each year. Subsidiary provisions would also establish a method for these entities to gradually come into compliance with the new spending limits and would give authority to the state secretary of administration and finance, on request, to permit some spending in excess of the new limits. The proposed law would also require state agencies, departments and Authorities as well as the secretary of administration and finance to submit yearly reports concerning the state's consultant contracts to certain legislative committees and to the inspector general.

Finally, the proposed law provides that any of its provisions, if found by a court to be unconstitutional or otherwise unlawful, would be severed from the law and the remaining provisions would continue in effect.


This proposed law would change the state income tax rate, affect language contained in certain tax provisions, and regulate the setting of fees by state agencies and authorities.

The proposed law would set the state income tax rate on Part B taxable income (in general, earned income) at 4.25 percent for 1991 and 4.625 percent for 1992, except for income from unemployment compensation, alimony, Massachusetts bank interest, rental income, pension and annuity income, and IRA-Keogh deductions, which would be taxed at 5 percent.

The proposed law also provides that the fee imposed by any state agency or authority shall be no more than the fee that was in effect on or before June 30, 1988. The state secretary of administration would determine the amount to be charged for any service, registration, regulation, license, fee, permit or other public function, except for the rates of tuition of fees at state colleges and universities or any fees or charges relative to the administration and operation of the state courts. Any increase of decrease in a fee, or the establishment of any new fee, would require the approval of the Legislature. Any increase in a fee would not apply to persons 65 years or older. No state agency or authority could collect any fee which exceeds the administrative costs directly incurred by the state agency or authority produce and process the application for any license or permit. The secretary of administration must report information concerning fees to the Legislature on an annual basis.

The proposed law provides that for tax periods commencing on or after January 1, 1991, language in certain provisions of the Massachusetts general laws relating to taxes shall be the same as it was on August 2, 1989, or the effective date of the proposed law, whichever language yields less tax revenue. The tax provisions affected include sections relating to the surtax on business income, corporate excise taxes, S corporation taxes, taxes on security corporations, taxes on Part A income (in general, unearned income), bank taxes, excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, excise taxes on deeds, estate taxes, payments to the Commonwealth relating to horse and dog racing, payments to the commonwealth relating to boxing and sparring matches, taxes on utility companies, gasoline taxes, taxes on insurance companies, excise taxes on motor vehicles, taxes on urban redevelopment corporations, sales tax, use tax, room occupancy excise tax, property taxes, and taxes on proceeds from raffles and bazaars.

The proposed law also contains a provision that if any sections of the law are held to be invalid, all other sections of the law are to remain in effect.


The proposed law would change the state election laws governing the establishment of political parties and the nomination of candidates.

The proposed law would allow voters to register under a political designation other than "Independent" and in addition to the two political parties previously recognized by law (Republican or Democrat), if at least 50 voters request to be permitted to do so. It would allow any group to qualify as a political party under Massachusetts law if at least 1 percent of the total number of registered voters register to vote using that group's political designation, or if at least 3 percent of the votes cast at the preceding election for any statewide office were cast for a candidate running under that group's political designation.

The proposed law would set the minimum number of signatures needed on independent or minor party nomination papers for state office at one-half of 1 percent (4 percent) of the entire vote cast in the previous state election for governor (as compared to 2 percent as of 1989), and would also establish this number of signatures as the upper limit needed for major party candidates. The proposed law would also permit voters to sign the nomination papers of any number of candidates for the same office, would require that all blank forms to be used for nomination papers and initiative and referendum petitions be no more than 8 1/2 inches by 14 inches in size, and would allow signatures to be collected on exact copies of those forms.


This proposed law would regulate the distribution to cities and towns of the Local Aid Fund, which consists of at least 40 of the revenue generated by the state income, sales, and corporate taxes, as well as the balance of the State Lottery Fund.

Subject to appropriation by the Legislature, the state treasurer would distribute the Local Aid Fund to cities and towns on a quarterly basis, and each city or town would receive at least the same amount of local aid it received in the previous fiscal year unless the total Local Aid Fund decreases.

In fiscal year 1992, if there has been any increase over the fiscal year 1989 fund, half of the increase would be distributed in accordance with the distribution formula used for fiscal year 1989, and half would be distributed to each city and town in proportion to its population.

In each year after 1992, if the fund increases, the excess would be distributed through a formula devised by the state secretary of administration and finance, with the advice and consent of the Local Government Advisory Committee. If the fund decreases after 1992, each town or city will have the amount it receives decreased by the same percentage.

This proposed law also requires that the treasurer publish an annual report about the Local Aid Fund, that the state auditor publish an annual audit of the account, and that the secretary of administration and finance issue to each city and town an estimate or funds it will receive from the Local Aid Fund.

Each city or town would be allowed to bring a lawsuit to force distribution of the account, and would be entitled to a late payment fee if distribution is not timely.


This non-binding questions asks whether radio and television broadcast outlets be required to give free and equal time to all certified candidates for public office in the commonwealth.

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