Secretary of State Bill Galvin got an early Christmas present from the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending on Christmas Eve, in the form of a petition to delay implementation of the recently-passed title clearance law.
The State House News Service reports the MAAPL filed a petition with 18 signatures with the secretary of state on Dec. 24 seeking to have the implementation of delayed and repealed, just a week before it was to take effect.
The law is designed to “repair” title defects in foreclosed-upon properties three years after foreclosure, provided the foreclosure has not been challenged in court.
MAAPL coordinator Grace Ross told State House News she considered the Dec. 31 implementation date unconstitutional.
That date should be invalid regardless of the petition, she said, citing a provision of the state constitution that says, “No law passed by the general court shall take effect earlier than 90 days after it has become a law, excepting laws declared to be emergency laws and laws which may not be made the subject of a referendum petition, as herein provided.” Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill on Nov. 30.
The appeal notwithstanding, “nothing we’ve considered is going to delay the implementation of the law,” said Bill McNiff, spokesman for the secretary’s office.
McNiff added that the filing is a very unusual development and that not every law is subject to this kind of referendum.
“It’s very rare,” he said. “Our office is reviewing it. If the petition is complete, we will forward it to the attorney general’s office, who would determine if the law is subject to the appeal referendum.”
The secretary of state’s website says if the petition is complete and the petitioners collect 43,167 signatures, or 2 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor in the previous election, the appeal could be considered by the legislature, which could approve it, or put it on the 2016 ballot.
Ross did not return calls seeking comment before this story’s deadline.