If the sales tax roll back passes, will it become law?

Yes. This is a legally-binding initiative that will take effect January 1, 2011 if a simple majority (50% plus one vote) votes Yes.

Some who claim to support this tax cut for workers and taxpayers of Massachusetts also claim that the legislature “won’t let it stand” if it passes. But lets look at the facts.

Ballot initiatives in Massachusetts do not need legislative approval. They are automatically enacted into law if passed by a majority of voters. In order to block an initiative or undermine it in any way, the legislature must take action and pass a bill to stop it – and risk a backlash from angry voters if they do. They’re usually not willing to take that chance, lest they lose their bid for reelection. This is why the vast majority of Massachusetts ballot initiatives that passed stand as law today.

Consider some of the laws enacted in Massachusetts by ballot initiative in recent years (for better or worse):

  • Income tax cut from 5.95% to 5.3%
  • Repeal of rent control
  • Stores open on Sunday
  • Marijuana decriminalization
  • School classes taught in the English language
  • Ban on dog racing
  • The bottle bill
  • Prop 2-1/2 – restrictions on property tax increases

All these measures happened because citizens put them on the ballot and because voters — like you — voted for them. And because the Massachusetts legislature was too afraid of voter backlash to repeal them.

A small minority of initiatives have been partially or fully blocked by the legislature. This usually occurred because the initiative law did not take effect immediately — giving special interests time to lobby the legislature and time for voters to forget about it.

That’s why we wrote this sales tax rollback to take effect almost immediately. If passed by voters on November 2nd, 2010, it will take effect on January 1st, 2011 – within two months.

Voters who are sick and tired of the arrogance and power of state politicians should cherish our ability to bypass the legislature and the governor — and pass laws directly via the ballot initiative process. It is by far the most powerful tool available to voters. We’re lucky that Massachusetts is one of the few eastern states to have ballot initiatives.

So next time you hear someone obsess about the small handful of initiatives that were set back by the legislature, ask them to celebrate instead the many initiatives passed by the Massachusetts voters — that stand as law today.

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