Action Under the Dome For Monday, June 26

Monday, June 26, 2023
Jen Lancaster
 

This is it β€” the final countdown. Legislators have worked incredibly long hours and evenings to bring the session to a conclusion, but there is still some big work to be done. 

Here are your weekly updates πŸ‘‡

 

Under the Dome

The House and Senate will meet for at least one more day this week to take care of final business. The Legislature will be in session later on for a β€œveto day,” when they can attend to any bills that the Governor vetoes. The Governor has 10 days from when bills are enacted to sign or veto them, or they become law without her signature. If she does veto any, the Legislature can try to override the veto on "veto day."

Signed into Law: 

  • LD 726 β€” Repealing our corporate contribution ban: This bill was signed by Gov. Mills and enacted into law. It went into immediate effect to repeal the corporate contribution ban and requires the Ethics Commission to develop similar legislation and submit a report by February 2024. We'll return in the new year to watchdog the process and ensure that a corporate contribution ban 2.0 passes in the Legislature.

Heading Soon to the Governor's Desk:
These bills were initially passed in the House and Senate, though some still have additional votes in both chambers, then they go to the Governor's desk. The Governor may choose to sign the bills into law, allow them to be enacted without her signature, or veto them. 

  • LD 1336 β€” Municipal Referendum Spending: This bill would require disclosure of ballot question campaign expenditures over $5,000 in smaller municipalities, where no disclosure at all is currently required. We support this one. 
  • 🚨LD 1610 β€” Protect Maine's Elections: This bill will stop foreign government spending in Maine elections. We support this one. This one still has another vote in both chambers. Click here to urge your legislator to support this bill through final passage.
  • LD 1690 β€” Ongoing Absentee Voting: This bill would establish ongoing absentee voting, where a voter can sign up to be automatically sent an absentee ballot for eligible elections, for all Mainers. We support this one. This one still has another vote in both chambers.
  • LD 1704 β€” Prison Gerrymandering Reform: This bill prevents prison gerrymandering, the practice of counting incarcerated individuals as part of the district where they're detained β€” and not by their home address. We support this one, too. This one still has another vote in both chambers.
  • 🚨 LD 2004 β€” Restore Access to Federal Laws Beneficial to the Wabanaki Nations:  This bill would allow Wabanaki peoples to benefit from federal legislation for tribes. We support this one. 

Placed on the special appropriations table:

These bills have been placed on the special appropriations table because they require funding. The bills have passed in the House and Senate, and enactment is pending. It's possible for bills to die on the table, but we remain hopeful that these bills get their funding. 

  • LD 577 β€” Town Websites to Host More Election Info: This bill would provide state support through the office of the Secretary of State for towns to disseminate local election information online. We support this bill. 
  • LD 1155 β€” Increasing Legislative Salaries: This bill would increase the overall pay from ~$29,000 to $45,000 for a legislative session (which spans two years). We support this measure and believe this is one way to increase equity and equal representation in the Legislature and encourage more people to run for office.

Unfinished business:

LD 1356 β€” Increasing Municipal Signature Requirements: This bill would increase the percentage of voters required to sign for local ballot questions by 50%, but only in towns without charters that set different requirements. This will negatively affect mostly small, rural towns  where signature collection is already difficult and rare. We oppose this one. It's tabled in the House, and we’re optimistic that it won’t advance.

And Finally, Some Really Good News:
The office of the Secretary of State (SOS) requested funding for four positions to support the Elections Division. We rely on the SOS to run smooth and fair elections. In the last few election cycles, the office has been understaffed, and existing staff were collecting excessive overtime hours. We're talking extreme burnout leading to high staff turnover. Luckily, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee included funding for all four positions in their budget proposal over the weekend. It's good news for the SOS office and for our elections.