“What I hear from voters today is not that there are too many referendum questions, but that their patience for government inaction is wearing thin. How many years did we debate minimum wage, ranked choice voting, legalization of marijuana, and the all-time winner, funding education at 55% – a conversation that started last century, I believe? We shouldn’t be surprised that when a legislature does not act, the Maine people take matters into their own hands. The citizens initiative is a fundamental check and balance built into our State Constitution that prevents tyranny created by the paralysis of government. It’s a provision we should be proud of.”
– Floor speech by Representative Kent Ackley (I-Monmouth)
This bill would make it more difficult to place a citizen initiative on the ballot by amending the Constitution of Maine to require that petition signatures be gathered equally from both of Maine’s two congressional districts.
After the 2016 election in Maine featured five different citizen-initiated issues on the ballot, Republican lawmakers sponsored more than a dozen bills to restrict the citizen initiative process. The current threshold to put an issue on the ballot in Maine is already one of the most onerous in the country. Further restricting that process only gives moneyed interests a greater advantage, while making it harder for genuine grassroots groups. These bills are attacks on our democracy and the ability for citizens and organizations to take action when the legislature cannot or will not.
DEAD: This bill failed to reach the two-thirds threshold required to amend our state Constitution.