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Bay State citizens push tax cap, waste cleanup, mail-in registration

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NOT all Massachusetts laws come from the legislature. Voters put some on the books, often with little support from elected senators and representatives. That's how Proposition 2 -- the local property-tax lid -- came into being in 1980. Now three more voter-initiated measures are moving in the same direction.

Disappointed by the legislature's failure to go along with their proposals, backers of a state tax cap, a mandatory cleanup of all hazardous waste sites in the commonwealth, and post-card voter registration have turned to the public for help.

To reach the November ballot, when voters would have the final say, the backers of each initiative petition must file not less than 10,252 new voter signatures. The deadline is June 18, except in Boston where an added five days is allowed.

Sponsors of all the initiatives will probably make it. But it's no easy task, since they cannot go back to any of the more than 61,508 voters who last fall signed the original petitions that placed their proposals before state lawmakers on a ``take it or leave it'' basis.

Cutting taxes, cleaning toxic-waste sites, and making it easier for people to become voters have considerable public appeal. But none of the proposals is opposition free. As organized as these groups may be, success in rallying enough voters to their cause is uncertain.

Citizens for Limited Taxation, for example, finds itself with a proposal, a part of which it no longer supports. The CLT tried but was unable to convince state Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti that altering its provision for repealing the state's income-tax surcharge would be only a technical change and therefore permitted under the state constitution.


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