Title: Have the GRP get 5,000 signatures for the PassMassAmendment, the Citizen’s Petition to Amend the Massachusetts Constitution to Say “Corporations Are Not People, Money is not Speech.”
Shepherd/Floor Manager: Terra Friedrichs, (Assabet River Valley Chapter-In-Formation/ (978) 808-7173)
Sponsor: Danny Factor (State Com Rep, Middlesex)
Co-sponsor: Mike Heichman, (State Com Rep, Suffolk)
Vetting Committees: AdCom, Platform, Membership & Diversity, Communications, Local Chapters
Background: Unfettered capitalism has had destructive impacts on society and our environment. Money in politics has corrupted the body politic and is destroying the social compact. The US Supreme Court ruled that corporations have constitutional rights to profit, to exist, etc. But the state of Massachusetts is a sovereign Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Constitution declares that citizens have the right to alter government. The 1917 Constitutional Convention put in place the process for citizens to make laws or to amend the state constitution via petition. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled (Bowe vs Commonwealth) that the Supreme Court and Federal decisions are “persuasive but not controlling to Massachusetts”.
There was no other choice than to petition to clarify what is meant by “a person”, so that it is clear to the courts that the citizenry believes that constitutional rights are meant for living breathing human beings, not for corporations. And so in 2012 PassMassAmendment, a group of citizen volunteers embarked upon a petition effort and drafted the following language for a proposed constitutional amendment:
Section 1: Corporations are not people and may be regulated. The rights afforded to the human inhabitants of the Commonwealth, under this Constitution, are not applicable to corporations, limited liability companies or any other corporate entity. Any references to persons, citizens, inhabitants, subjects, men, people, individuals or like terms in this Constitution, are not to be construed in any way to be referring to a corporation, limited liability company or other corporate entities. Corporations, limited liability companies and any other corporate entity shall do business in this state under the regulation of laws passed by the legislature which shall set the rights of such entities to do business to promote the common good and strengthen the social compact of this Commonwealth.
Section 2: Money is not free speech and may be regulated. To protect our political process and the functioning of government to serve in the best interests of the citizens of the Commonwealth, money shall not be considered free speech. The legislature shall have the power to regulate the raising and spending of money and inkind equivalents for any primary or election of a public official and for ballot measures. This shall include regulation of any advertising for or against any candidate in a primary or election for public office and any ballot measure.
In 2013, the Greater Boston Chapter and the GRP Assabet River Valley Group endorsed and assisted with the first attempt at Pass Mass Amendment signature gathering. The GRP was the perfect ally to PMA since the GRP Party Agenda states that “Corporations are Not People; Money Is Not Speech.” The GRP recognizes that its vision of grassroots democracy, social justice and equal opportunity, ecological wisdom, decentralization, community based economics and sustainability will not come to fruition so long as tremendous power is consolidated in corporations and so long as our political system is corrupted by money. Passage of the Pass Mass Amendment would open the door to a vision of what a green democracy can be: one that values people, planet and peace. This will happen when we and our partner groups with similar visions recognize that we must rise up and take charge of our government, and petition for change using the petition process to achieve direct democracy.
With no infrastructure or organization to speak of, PassMassAmendment got 10,000 certified signatures in its first attempt in 2013 to get the 90,000 signatures necessary to put the matter on the ballot. For Pass Mass Amendment to be successful when it again tries to meet this threshold in 2014, it needs to change strategy by multiplying in size to be able to achieve its goals. PassMassAmendment believes that in addition to repeating its achievement of getting 10,000 signatures, it can and must get 15 other groups to pledge to get 5,000 signatures each this coming fall.
Proposal: We propose that the Green Rainbow Party get 5,000 signatures toward PassMassAmendment’s 90,000 signatures in the two month signature gathering period this coming fall. We also propose that the Green Rainbow Party address the issue in press releases this coming year as direct and indirect causes of “money in politics” arise during the year.
We propose that AdCom and Statecom encourage chapters around the state to get a thousand signatures per chapter.
We propose that the Green Rainbow Party put out a press release to its press list announcing the commitment. The text of that press release will be based on this proposal and PassMassAmendment press releases.
We envision that as we implement this strategy, in the short term, GRP will become known as one of the leaders of the movement to transform the regulation of corporations and campaigns, and we will strengthen our relationship with other groups which support this cause.
We envision in that the long term, this Constitutional Amendment will be enacted that will lay the path for the Green-Rainbow vision to flourish.
Budget Impact: None.
Implementation: The gathering of 5,000 signatures by the GRP will be achieved by having at least three afternoon petitioning actions per chapter in a two month period of time this fall. With this, we believe that 5,000 signatures should be attainable. Signature gathering for Pass Mass Amendment can also be combined with campaign activities related to GRP Fall Statewide candidates.
Regarding the wording of the proposal, I suggest it be edited so that the GRP is committing to the actions, not that the sponsors are saying “we propose.”
I support this if it is combined with a membership recruitment piece.
I would therefore suggest that Mike and Terra contact the local chapter co-chairs prior to the meeting and have them (or the chapter) endorse this concept.