Maine Citizens Protest States’ Unconstitutional Bill

Tue, Mar 23 2010 by Anonymous

(Augusta, ME) - Today several of Maine’s grassroots activists and community organizers united in protest to an unconstitutional bill moving through the state legislature which would hinder Mainers’ initiative & people’s veto referendum rights.

Mary Adams, Chair of the 2006 Taxpayer Bill of Rights Referendum, and Dana Cote, President of the National Worksite Benefit Group are among the state leaders who have sent a coalition letter to the Maine legislature asking them to vote “no” on LD 1730, and vote “yes” for Maine’s First Amendment rights.

The full text of the letter can be found below:

To the Maine House,
We the undersigned citizens of Maine, including leaders of organizations representing tens of thousands of  Mainers, believe that the ability of voters to have a voice in government must be fiercely protected. Currently LD 1730 contains provisions that would severely curtail the ability of Mainers to use their constitutionally guaranteed right to initiative and referendum.  We therefore urge you to vote ‘NO’ on this bill.

LD 1730 “An Act To Strengthen the Ballot Initiative Process” would both create a requirement that petition organizations engaged in signature gathering to register with the state. Currently, persons, organizations and corporations are free to encourage, support and organize the collection of petition signatures without interference from the state or the need to register.

Such registration means petition supporters must obtain permission from the state to engage in free speech activity, whenever the protections on free speech activity outlined in the United States Constitution are there specifically to protect against the restriction of speech by the state. No one should have to get permission from the state to exercise their rights under the First Amendment.

We remind you that the Maine Supreme Court has previously recognized and concluded, in Allen v. Quinn, that “the importance of the right of initiative, and again conclude that the right of the people to initiate and seek to enact legislation is an absolute right… It cannot be abridged directly or indirectly by any action of the Legislature. In short, the Legislature is authorized to enact implementing legislation, but cannot do so in any way that is inconsistent with the Constitution or that abridges directly or indirectly the people’s right of initiative.”

As representatives of the people of Maine, please consider your responsibility to respect the fundamental constitutional rights of Maine citizens as you consider these bills. We ask you to defeat LD LD1730 should it come up for a vote.

Sincerely,

Mark Turek, Board Chairman, Maine Taxpayers United

Joel Allumbaugh, CEO, National Worksite Benefit Group

Dana Cote, President, National Worksite Benefit Group

Mary Adams, Chair, Maine Center-right Coalition

Bob Emrich, Director, Maine Jeremiah Project

Tim Russell, Co-Founder, Maine Marriage Alliance

Paul Jacob, President, Citizens in Charge

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