Pioneer Institute Objects to Ballot Petitions on Rent Control and MCAS

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BOSTON, August 18, 2023 — Pioneer Institute today filed with Attorney General Andrea Campbell letters expressing opposition to certification of two ballot initiative petitions, one relating to rent control and the other proposing the elimination of MCAS testing as a condition for graduation from a public high school, because both initiative petitions, as drafted, are unconstitutional.

Rent Control

The rent control measure, petition 23-42, “Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to Local Options for Tenant Protections,” would enable rent control to be reintroduced at the local level. The proposed ballot initiative, if certified, would allow cities and towns to regulate rents, evictions, and the circumstances under which owners of rental properties could exit the market.

Pioneer submitted a legal memorandum outlining the reasons that the petition does not pass constitutional muster and must therefore be denied certification.

The memorandum asserts that:

  • The petition fails to meet the “related matter” standard under Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution, because it gives local governments “plenary power” with respect to numerous areas of the economy—not only rental prices, but also home construction, broker compensation, and evictions.
  • The petition fails to require just compensation—or really any compensation—for what amounts to the public taking of private property.

MCAS & Local District Competency Determinations

The MCAS measure, petition 23-36, “An Initiative Petition for a Law Requiring that Districts Certify [Student Mastery] as a Replacement for the MCAS Graduation Requirement,” would remove the requirement that a student pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test in order to graduate from a public high school and limit options for local districts to determine student competency.

Pioneer, together with representatives of the business community, education reform advocates, and supporters of high academic standards, is challenging this petition as not complying with the relatedness requirements.

The Pioneer memorandum asserts that:

  • The petition fails to meet the “related matter” standard under Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution by presenting two separate matters: It not only eliminates the existing state-law requirement that students pass the MCAS to graduate, but it then goes forward by limiting localities to considering only a student’s satisfactory completion of “coursework” in deciding whether the student meets basic state competency standards.

The signatories to the MCAS memorandum are:

Christopher Anderson, President, Massachusetts High Technology Council
Karen E. Andreas, President & CEO, North Shore Chamber of Commerc
Stephen Clark, President & CEO, Massachusetts Restaurant Association
Mary Z. Connaughton, Chief Operating Officer, Pioneer Institute
Michael Contompasis, Superintendent (ret.), Boston Public Schools
Lucile Hicks, Fmr. Massachusetts State Senator, 5th Middlesex District
Jon Hurst, President, Retailers Association of Massachusetts
Edward M. Lambert Jr., Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education
Pamela Layton, CEO, 4immune Therapeutics
Eileen McAnneny, Senior Fellow in Economic Opportunity, Pioneer Institute
Timothy P. Murray, President & CEO, Worcester Chamber of Commerce
James Peyser, Fmr. Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Paul Reville, Fmr. Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts;
Francis Keppel, Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Keri Rodrigues, President, Massachusetts Parents United
James E. Rooney, President & CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Ray Stata, Fmr. President, Analog Devices
James Stergios, Executive Director, Pioneer Institute
Mary Tamer, President, Massachusetts, Democrats for Education Reform