AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE TOWN OF HUBBARDSTON TO SEND CERTAIN INFORMATION TO THE VOTERS RELATIVE TO BALLOT QUESTIONS.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding section 21C of chapter 59 of the General Laws, section 22A of chapter 55 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, the board of selectmen of the town of Hubbardston shall, at least 10 days before an election at which a binding or nonbinding question shall be submitted solely to the voters of the town, cause a notice to be printed containing: (1) the full text of the question; (2) a fair and concise summary of the question, including a 1-sentence statement prepared by the board of selectmen or town counsel describing the effect of a yes or no vote; and (3) arguments for and against the question as provided in section 2. The board of selectmen shall make the notice available by posting it: (i) on the town’s official website; (ii) at each polling place in the town; (iii) at the town post office; (iv) at the town office building; and (v) subject to available funds and any other conditions that may be imposed by by-law, mailing the notice, or a statement indicating where and how the notice may be obtained, to each residence of a registered voter whose name appears on the latest active voting list in the town; provided, however, that posting of notice under this section may be revised by by-law.
SECTION 2. The board of selectmen of the town of Hubbardston shall cause to be printed and made available, in the manner provided in section 1, an argument for and against each question submitted solely to the voters of the town pursuant to any General Law including, but not limited to, section 21C of chapter 59 of the General Laws. No argument shall contain more than 250 words.
The board of selectmen, or, at its request, the town counsel shall seek written arguments from the principal proponents and opponents of each question. The board of selectmen shall designate a date by which written arguments shall be received, in a written notice to the principal proponents and opponents. The notice shall be issued at least 14 days before the date on which the written arguments shall be received.
For the purposes of this act, the principal proponents and opponents of a question shall be those persons determined by the board of selectmen to be best able to present the arguments for and against a question. The principal proponents or opponents of such a question may include a town officer or committee, and the principal proponents may include the first 10 signers or a majority of the first 10 signers of any petition initiating the placement of such question on the ballot. In determining the principal proponents and opponents of such a question, said board of selectmen shall contact each ballot question committee, if any, as defined in section 1 of chapter 55 of the General Laws, organized specifically to influence the outcome of the vote on such question. If no argument is received by said board of selectmen within the time allowed by this act, said town counsel shall prepare such argument.
All arguments filed with or prepared by the board of selectmen pursuant to this act, and the summary prepared pursuant to section 1, shall be open to public inspection at the office of the town clerk of said town.
SECTION 3. The official ballot shall include the summary and statements describing the effect of a yes or no vote as provided in clause (2) of section 1.
SECTION 4. This act shall also apply where the question presented involves a regional district of which the town of Hubbardston is a member or involves a joint undertaking by said town of Hubbardston and any one or more cities or towns.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect upon its passage.