Attorney General Certifies 12 Initiative Petitions to Continue on Path to 2020 Ballot

Twelve initiative petitions were certified recently by Attorney General Maura Healey, who determined that the proposals had met the necessary constitutional requirements to proceed to the next step in the ballot question process. Ten of the petitions propose new laws to be considered on the 2020 ballot, while two others are proposed amendments to the state constitution, which would not be considered until 2022.

Two of the questions certified to advance are of particular interest to the retail industry. One is a proposal to update the 2013 Motor Vehicle Right to Repair law. RAM was a member and a strong supporter of the original Right to Repair Coalition in 2013 and we will be again this time around as well. The Coalition is seeking important updates to the law that will guarantee a consumer’s right to access the telematics and data stored by their automobile which is transmitted wirelessly to the manufacturer.

A second question of interest is a proposal to expand the sale alcohol in food stores. The initiative, sponsored by Cumberland Farms, would create a new “food store” license, allowing for the sale of beer and wine in food stores with permitting authority controlled at the municipal level. There would be no cap on available food store licenses. The proposal also seeks to phase out the cap entirely on all-alcohol permits available per company, from nine in 2020 to no cap in 2024.

Now certified by the AG, proponents must gather and submit 80,239 signatures of registered voters to local town clerks and the Secretary of State by December 4th, 2019. Questions that make it that far then move to the Legislature, where they can be approved and passed into law, substituted or ignored by May 2020. Often ignored, proponents of questions are then required to collect an additional 13,374 signatures by early July to receive final approval to appear on the ballot in November 2020.

The update to the Right to Repair law will be an important fight for many of our auto service members and auto parts sellers. The alcohol permit expansion question will likely see RAM members split on either side of the issue. Regardless, the path to make it to the ballot is long and expensive, and RAM intends to closely monitor the progress of both campaigns as the process unfolds this fall.