SECTION 1. Chapter 54 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 42C the following section:-
(a) As used in this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:-
“citizens’ initiative review”, the process through which a citizen panel is assembled, deliberations are conducted for a ballot measure, and the resulting citizens’ statement is disseminated to the voting public
“citizens’ panel”, 18 to 24 Massachusetts residents of voting age as demographically representative as possible of the overall voting age population
“citizens’ statement”, a 1 page document made public immediately upon its completion written by a citizens’ panel that includes key findings and reasons to support and oppose the ballot measure under its review, as well as any other information the citizens’ panel deems pertinent
“deliberations”, a meeting, the proceedings of which shall be open to observation by the public, of no less than 3 and no more than 5 days, during which a citizens’ panel shall evaluate the ballot measure under its review, complete its citizens’ statement, and have the opportunity to hear testimony from and question relevant policy experts and the campaigns or their surrogates supporting and opposing the relevant measure
(b) A citizens’ initiative review commission is established within the executive branch and shall consist of 7 commissioners, all of whom shall be residents of the commonwealth. The governor shall appoint 1 commissioner, who shall be the chairman of the commission; the attorney general shall appoint 1 commissioner; the secretary of the commonwealth shall appoint 1 commissioner; the senate president shall appoint 1 commissioner; the speaker of the house shall appoint 1 commissioner; the minority leader of the senate shall appoint 1 commissioner; and the minority leader of the house shall appoint 1 commissioner. All appointees shall hold expertise relevant to nonpartisan public deliberation.
No person appointed to the commission, in the 5 years preceding such appointment, shall have held presidential, congressional, state legislative or statewide elective office, nor shall have served as mayor or city councilor or equivalent of a city or town in the commonwealth, or as a member of the governor’s council, nor shall have been elected to a state or federal party committee, nor shall have been an executive or legislative agent, nor shall stand for elected office or for election to a state or federal party committee, nor shall serve as executive or legislative agent, nor shall be compensated by any state ballot question committee for the duration of their terms.
The term of office of a commissioner shall be 4 years. Vacancies shall be filled by the appropriate appointing authority.
The commission shall appoint an executive director to serve at its pleasure.
Adequate funding for the salary of the executive director, the operations of the commission, and the contract or contracts to be awarded by the commission, as stipulated in subsection (d), shall be provided from the General Fund, subject to appropriation.
(c) Citizens’ initiative review shall be conducted for at least 1 ballot measure each statewide biennial election. Immediately upon the secretary of the commonwealth’s certification of the ballot measures that have qualified to be decided upon by the voters at the next statewide biennial election, the commission shall select the ballot measure or measures for which citizens’ initiative review shall be conducted. For each ballot measure selected, the commission shall issue a public statement explaining the rationale for its selection and a unique citizens’ panel shall be assembled and convened for deliberations.
(d) No later than February first of the year of a statewide biennial election, the commission shall contract according to nationally accepted standards with nonpartisan organization or organizations with expertise in delivery of nonpartisan public deliberation to conduct citizens’ initiative review, with preference given to Massachusetts based organizations.
(e) Members of a citizen panel shall be paid at least 500 dollars, adjusted for inflation biennially, for their participation during deliberations and their travel, lodging, and food expenses shall also be reimbursed or otherwise provided.
(f) At least 2 professional moderators, with at least 1 having experience with citizens’ initiative review, shall run deliberations.
(g) No later than February first of the year following a statewide biennial election, the commission shall convene the organizations contracted to conduct citizens’ initiative review to evaluate the procedures followed, including the means of disseminating the citizens’ statement or statements, and gather recommendations for potential changes. No later than April first of said year, the commission shall prepare a final report to be made public evaluating the success of the citizens’ initiative review conducted and issuing recommendations for changes, if any.
SECTION 2. Section 53 of chapter 54 of the General Laws, as it appears in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting in line 20 after the word “finances”, the following words:-
“, a citizens’ statement prepared in accordance with section 42D”
SECTION 3. Within 180 days of the effective date of this act, the commission shall adopt rules and regulations necessary to carry out its duties.
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