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