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.
Title: Review and Update Main GRP Brochure
Sponsors: Joanna Herlihy and Dru Tarr
Shepherd & main sponsor: Joanna Herlihy
Committees to be sent to for feedback: Communications, Membership, Platform, CDLC
Background: The current main GRP brochure has been used for several years with no changes except in formatting and contact address. Meanwhile, the Green-Rainbow Party has continued to refine its approach to changing circumstances and has adopted a “Party Agenda” as a general guideline. Recently, those working on a document to compare GRP with other parties have formulated some excellent text.
Summary: Much of the current brochure should remain intact. The title column, Join the Party, and Yes, I want to support the Party sections are needed. In the other three columns, there might be more concentration on what the Green-Rainbow Party stands for. The existing text describes very well what is dysfunctional about our state government. However, that text might be condensed into less space to leave room for more of what GRP promotes and to suggest applications at the municipal level.
Financial Impact: None beyond what is periodically expended in printing brochures.
Implementation: The Communications director should invite participation in a working group to review and revise GRP main brochure which represents perspectives of Communications, Membership, Platform, and CDLC committees. This group should review the current brochure and sources which can serve to enrich it, bearing in mind the purposes for which the GRP main brochure is generally used.
Proposal: That the GRP Communications Director be requested to invite participation in a working group to review and revise the main GRP brochure, including representation from communication, membership, platform, and CDLC. This working group should consult several times in the next three months, reviewing pertinent materials, and make recommendations for revisions to be submitted to AdCom for approval by April, 2014.
Further, the new approved text of the main GRP brochure should be posted on the green-rainbow.org website in a form that is accessible by member groups such as locals to be printed (in black and white, if need be) for distribution at local occasions.
Title:| Host foreclosure meetings
Shepherd/Floor Manager/Lead Sponsor: Merelice, Norfolk County
Co-sponsor(s): Joanna Herlihy (Middlesex), Scott Laugenour (Senatorial District)
Vetting Committees: Administrative Committee, Membership Committee
As one of the founding organizations of the Mass. Alliance Against Predatory Lending (MAAPL), the GRP has a history of seeking ways and supporting legislation to help people save their homes. Contrary to popular opinion, it is expected that foreclosures will spike again in 2014. Further, the protections that are now law are not necessarily known by the people who need protecting. In addition, it has been proved that the majority of past foreclosures have been done illegally, opening the door to challenging them and restoring people's homes,
Several cities in Massachusetts are organized to work with people whose homes are threatened, cities like Boston, Springfield, Lawrence, Lowell, Worcester, and Brockton. The GRP has the opportunity to help MAAPL educate or start to organize residents in a few more cities. Possibilities include Pittsfield, the Fitchburg/Leominster area, Fall River, and the Weymouth/South Shore area.
The GRP, through its chapters (either local or campus) and candidate networks, will work to host three or four organizational or educational meetings in cities across the state for people facing foreclosure or already foreclosed, ideally during the four months of April through July 2014.
Cost of refreshments at the meeting. If the GRP chapter is unable to find a free venue, MAAPL will find a location.
Following the January StateCom meeting, Adcom will ask relevant chapters/members and past candidates to consider their ability to help organize a meeting and how to proceed in their areas. When a host has been identified, they will be put in touch with a MAAPL contact.
GRP's role is to identify a location for the meeting, possibly distribute flyers and use local press to promote the meeting, and host the meeting by providing some refreshments. MAAPL would be responsible for doing the research to identify relevant attendees, determining the agenda and conducting the program, and printing and providing the materials that the attendees need to protect their homes.
GRP Involvement in 2014 Ballot Question Initiative Campaigns
Sponsors: Mike Heichman, Suffolk County (Shepherd) and Danny Factor, Middlesex County
Contact Info: email@example.com 617-265-8143
Vetting: Platform Comm.
Our party has become involved in this project in the past. We can become much more effective if we adopt a plan and calendar at our StateCom meeting on 1/11/14.
At this date, it is impossible to know which questions will appear on the November, 2014 Ballot. Below are some of the steps and dates, which weed out the large number of questions.
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(Excerpts from the Attorney General’s website: An Overview for Interested Members of the Public ttp://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/initiatives-and-other-ballot-questions/initiative-petition-process.html
1. Thousands of additional voter signatures are gathered (this year, the requirement is 68,911) and filed with local election officials by late November and then with the Secretary of State by the first Wednesday in December;
2. If enough are gathered, the measure is sent to the Legislature in January of 2014;
3. The Legislature either approves or disapproves the measure, proposes a substitute, or takes no action;
4. Unless the Legislature has enacted the measure before the first Wednesday in May of 2014, the proponents gather still more signatures (this year, 11,485 signatures are required) by early July;
5. If they gather enough, the measure and any legislative substitute are submitted to the people at the next biennial state election (in this case, November of 2014).
The process is similar for constitutional amendments, but they must go through two successive sessions of the Legislature and must (unlike initiative petitions for laws) get the approval of 25% of the legislators in each session. Thus any proposed constitutional amendments submitted by August of 2013 could not appear on the ballot until November of 2016.
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Current Petitions Filed
Titles of Potential Questions that will appear on the November, 2014 Ballot:
- Constitutional Amendment to declare that “corporations are not people, $ is not speech.”
- Patience Safety Act
- Earned Sick Time
- Raising Minimum Wage
- Law to Prohibit Casino Gambling
- Sales Tax
- New Hire Incentives
- Constitutional Amendment Extending the People’s Right of Self-Government
- Updating Bottle Bill
- Repeal 2013 Gas Tax Incentive
- Genetically Modified Food Right to Know
- Constitutional Amendment Relative to MA National Guard
- Shared Parenting
- Abuse Prevention
- Whale Safe Fishing Act
- Repeal 2013 Sales Tax on Computer and Software Technology Service
- MA Family Sunshine Protection
- Limit Excessive Hospital Operating Margins …
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- Winter, 2014 StateCom Meeting
- StateCom will endorse this project as a statewide issue initiative for 2014.
- A small 2014 Statewide Ballot Task Force (at least 3 members) will be established. Members of the Platform Comm. will be invited (but not expected) to join this Task Force.
- The Statewide Ballot Task Force will be asked to …
- Research the potential questions.
- Prepare to make recommendations to the Spring, 2014 StateCom meeting on what positions (yes, no, or no position) that the StateCom should take on these questions.
- If it “seems” that there may be strong interest in one or more of these questions among GRP members, the Task Force may research ways our members could support any of these campaigns.
- Spring, 2014 StateCom Meeting
- The Task Force will make its recommendations to StateCom and StateCom will decide what to do.
- StateCom will authorize the Task Force to create GRP literature on the questions that it has taken positions. The Task Force will present its proposed literature to Adcom for approval.
- GRP endorsed candidates, local chapters and individual members will be encouraged to use and distribute the literature.
IV. Budget: StateCom will authorize Adcom to spend up to $350 for this project. (Most of the estimated expenses would be for the printing of literature.)