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Three months into the 2021-2022 session, the legislature is winding up to consider constitutional amendments at the constitutional convention the House and Senate must convene by May 12.

Several speakers testified Tuesday in favor of a constitutional amendment from House Minority Leader Brad Jones (H 82) prohibiting the use of eminent domain to take land for private commercial or economic development interests.

“Just because someone owns a modest home does not mean they should worry the government will take their property to build more expensive homes,” said Jaimie Cavanaugh, an attorney with the Institute for Justice group that advocates to limit the scope of government power.

Removing gendered language and declaring laws that produce unequal outcomes for different groups to be unconstitutional are also on the table, in addition to the proposed “millionaire’s tax.”

One of the most high-profile topics that will feature at this session’s Convention, a proposed 4 percent surtax on household incomes above $1 million per year, was not on the agenda for Tuesday’s hearing but is automatically on the convention agenda. The measure needs approval from Constitutional Conventions in two successive lawmaking sessions before it can go before voters as a ballot question for final approval.

In June 2019, the Constitutional Convention advanced the constitutional amendment with a 147-48 vote to clear the first hurdle.

If it passes again, as is expected, the question will be placed on the ballot in November 2022.

House Speaker Ronald Mariano voted against the proposal in the past before supporting it as a constitutional amendment, and last week he criticized the process as one that “bypasses compromise.”

Mass. House GOP Leader Proposes Eminent Domain Curbs

by State House News Service time to read: 1 min