Exercise Your Civic Rights! – cross posted on Peter Porcupine

I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character

George H.W. Bush, First Inaugural Address, Saturday, January 20, 2001

How often have you heard it said – there ougtta be a law!

In Massachusetts, you have a chance to make you own law, and the filing deadline of Jan. 14, 2009 is upcoming.

Here in Mass., we have in our Constitution what is called the Right of Free Petition. Any citizen of the commonwealth can file legislation with the House Clerk, and it must be considered by the relevant legislative committee on the same footing as a bill filed by a legislator.

There is no dearth of ideas floating about here. The Mass. Secretary of State, William Galvin, has an excellent guide on his web site, Participating in the Legislative Process, which provides a good outline of how to do so.

The Clerk of the Massachusetts House is Steven James, and he can be reached by calling the main number of the State House. He is an excellent and non-partisan public servant, genuinely helpful (due in no small part to the fact that while the average tenure of a Speaker if five years, the average tenure of a House Clerk is closer to forty – he can expect to work with a variety of people).

Don’t be shy – your idea is just as likely to be good as that of a legislator who throws a bill in the hopper to mandate umbrellas once it begins raining. The tools are in your hands, and you can try to improve our Commonwealt with your efforts.

(a note for RMG after the jump)  

For my many and varied detractors, in order to save you time speculating about my personal mortality or asking why I don’t take my own advice –

I have in fact filed a bill for the next Session on a subject which interests me.  This is the third filing – the first was mid-Session when I had the idea, and it died as a late file.  Last Session, it was approved by the relevant Committee and made it to Third Reading.  This Session I will testify again.  This is actually not discouraging, as even most bona fide legislators have to file a bill two or three times for it to be passed, so if you do choose to do this, prepare to persevere.

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