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Don't Let a Typo Stop Clean Elections

Don't Let the Fund Run Dry

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Action Under the Dome

Our weekly update on legislation of interest. Sign up here to get this delivered to your mailbox each Monday morning.

Drafting Error Threatens Clean Elections

You won't believe it.

When the legislature passed the biennial budget at the 11th hour last summer, there was a drafting error that could stop funding for Clean Elections.

The mistake - and everyone agrees it was a mistake - was discovered just last month, and a correction was added to LD 1894, the normally uncontroversial bill that sweeps up assorted drafting errors. However, when it came up for a vote in the House, LD 1894, failed to get the 2/3 vote needed for emergency legislation.

Unless this mistake is corrected, the Ethics Commission won't be able to dispense money from the Clean Elections Fund to the candidates who've qualified for it.

We need this bill to pass.

Candidates and voters from all parties have been relying on the Clean Elections program. The funding being held up was part of a bipartisan budget deal hammered out last year. There is no legitimate reason for House Republicans to renege on that deal now.

We need to act quickly to correct this problem, and we know that even a few constituent phone calls can make a difference.

Find contact information here for your representatives. and urge them to immediately pass legislation that will release Clean Elections funds.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind when talking to your representatives:

  • This would be the first time in the 18-year history of Clean Elections when the state has not kept its side of the bargain of providing the funding for which candidates have qualified.
  • Less than three years ago, voters reaffirmed their strong support for Clean Elections and approved the supplemental funding disbursements that are now threatened by this action.
  • The legislature has appropriated the money. This is not more money; it's the same old money.
  • There are over 200 candidates from all the caucuses now depending on Clean Elections. They are backed by tens of thousands of voters who gave qualifying contributions. Curtailing their funding is simply unfair.

Support Clean Elections

Let your representatives know that you support LD 1780. You can find contact information here.

LD 1780 is An Act to Transfer Funds to the Maine Clean Election Fund To Provide Adequate Funding for Maine Clean Election Fund Candidates

With this bill, the Ethics Commission is requesting a modest amount of additional funding for the Maine Clean Election Fund to make sure that the fund does not run out of money in 2018. The qualifying deadline for gubernatorial Clean Election candidates was April 2. We now have three gubernatorial candidates certified for Clean Elections: one Democrat, one independent, and one Republican. Legislative candidates have until April 20 to qualify, and hundreds of them are participating in the Clean Elections program. The fund has never run out before in the 18-year history of the program, and we don't want to start now. LWVME testified in support of LD 1780 at its public hearing in February.

The bill went to floor votes with an amendment calling for the transfer request to be reduced from $1.7 million to $700,000. The amended bill passed in the House and cleared a procedural vote in the Senate with bipartisan support. You can see the key roll call vote here. Those voting "no" were voting with us. The bill has been placed on the Special Appropriations Table pending enactment in the Senate as part of the overall appropriations process. This will probably go down to the wire.

April, 2018

Bill Threatening the Citizen Initiative Process is Dead

LD 1726 An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Elections was an otherwise innocuous housekeeping measure from the Office of the Secretary of State that contained one remarkable provision that would certainly have had the effect of making it harder for citizen initiatives to qualify for the ballot. It would also have had the perverse effect of ensuring that the only measures that could succeed would be those that are well-financed from the beginning, increasing the role of big, out-of-state money in the process.

Here's our testimony from the public hearing. As of April 5, 2018, this bill died in non-concurrence.

Read more.

April 2018

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