Mainers’ Rights Still In Peril: A Report from Augusta
Here is the latest update for the three anti-initiative and referendum bills currently working their way through the Maine Legal and Veterans Affairs (LVA) Committee.
LD 1690, “An Act To Prevent Predatory Signature Gathering and Ensure a Clean Citizen Initiative and People’s Veto Process” was voted on in Committee Work Session (2/25) as Ought Not to Pass; however it has not been reported out of committee yet.
LD 1692, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Amend the Requirements Governing Direct Initiatives” was voted out of committee (2/17) as a Divided Report; Majority Report Ought Not to Pass; Minority Report Ought to Pass as Amended.
LD 1730 was taken up during the LVA Committee’s Work Session (WS) yesterday, March 10, and will be reported out of committee as a divided report. The final numbers are still not available since one of the committee members has not voted yet. But as it now stands it will be reported out as a Divided Report with the Majority Report Ought to Pass as Amended and the Minority Report as Ought Not to Pass.
At yesterday’s work session regarding LD 1730 “An Act to Strengthen the Ballot Initiative Process”, the language of the original bill was essentially stripped out and replaced with amendment language, so all that is left is the original bill number and title.
There is no electronically available copy of LD 1730, as amended so based on what was passed out in the WS and discussed here is what LD 1730, as amended, would require:
- The Secretary of State is to include a space at the top and bottom of each page of the petition for a “unique identifier.” The unique identifier is defined as the petition circulator’s initials and sequential petition sheet serial number.
- The signature of the circulator and verification or oath by affirmation described in section 354, subsection 7, paragraph A, must be made prior to submission to the registrar. Note: By way of normal process this is what actually happens, but since it was not spelled out in law, it was determined to be required.)
- The registrar or clerk shall make a copy of each petition submitted in accordance with section 902. If the registrar or clerk suspects that a petition was submitted in violation of any provision to this chapter, the registrar or clerk shall immediately notify the SOS and provide a copy of the petition.
- A Direct Initiative and Peoples Veto petition organization must register with the Secretary of State prior to organizing, supervising or managing the circulation of petitions. A petition organization means a business entity that receives compensation for organizing, supervising, or managing the circulation of petitions for a Direct Initiative and Peoples Veto.
While LD 1730, as amended, is not as heavy handed as originally presented it is still adding more burdensome administrative requirements to Constitutionally protected political free speech and the right to petition. It does far more harm than good. When all is said and done this bill is incrementalism, or “death by a thousand cuts,” with regard to free speech using the Direct Initiative and Peoples Veto process.
To let your representatives know what you think about LD 1730, An Act to Strengthen the Ballot Initiative Process”, you can click here to find you state Senator and here to find your state Representative.