“The impact of this bill is worse than the sum of its technocratic parts. It’s entirely unclear to me what problem this bill is seeking to solve. If its intent is to crack down on campaigns like the casino referendum from last year, voters already weighed in on that when the initiative went down in flames. If its intent is to reign in the citizens initiative process for initiatives that have passed in recent years--in some cases by historic margin- - than it’s nothing more than another attack on the will of the voters and an implication that voters are incapable of discerning the truth or when a group is attempting to pull the wool over their eyes.”
– Testimony of Taryn Hallweaver, legislative director with the Maine People’s Alliance
This bill would have introduced more requirements for getting questions on the ballot, from signature-collection to the process of notaries verifying signatures, and it would have placed duplicative financial disclosure rules in place--rules that lawmakers already voted against when applied to political parties or PACs by party leaders.
The significance of this bill was probably best summarized by Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee member Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop), who asked whether this bill was nothing more than sour grapes on the part of those who didn’t like the results of recent initiatives passed by voters in Maine. Singling out the citizen initiative process for “reform,” when referendums have been initiated in large part due to the inaction and gridlock of the legislature--especially considering Maine already has one of the more stringent requirements nationally for getting on the ballot--is anti-democratic and wildly tone-deaf.
LAW: This bill passed both chambers and was signed into law by Gov. LePage.