February 11, 2019
Dear Members and Friends of LWVME,
Join us in Augusta on February 14 to lend your voice to support important pro-democracy reforms. The League and our partners at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections have combed through the long list of ideas and developed an ambitious program of priority bills for making democracy work. Learn more about the measures that really matter by joining us in Augusta on February 14.
Over the course of the 129th Legislature, many of our priority bills will be heard in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. See the list of committee members here. If you live in one of their districts, let us know if you are willing to meet with your legislator to discuss some of our priorities.
Update from Last Week
Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (VLA), State House Room 437, February 6, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Live Audio
One of our top priority bills had its public hearing on February 6. LD 245 An Act To Reestablish a Presidential Primary System in Maine would restore the use of presidential primaries instead of caucuses. Recent experience with caucuses in presidential election years has raised questions about logistics and access, and primary elections typically bring out more voters than do caucuses. The League used its new position on primaries and candidate selection systems to support LD 245. Read our testimony here, along with that from everyone else who appeared, including some other League volunteers.
We also offered testimony neither for nor against (NFNA) LD 114 An Act To Establish Open Primaries for Certain Federal and State Offices (not really "open primaries" but rather nonpartisan or "top two" primaries) and LD 272 An Act To Allow Voting by Mail. You can read our testimony on these and other measures at our web site. These and other bills where we've offered testimony are awaiting work sessions in the VLA committee. Stay tuned for developments.
Coming Up this Week
Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (VLA), State House Room 437, February 11, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Live Audio
Through our partners at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, we'll be testifying this morning on no less than four bills on money in politics. The most important of these is LD 361 An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Political Action Committees, which will ban so-called leadership PACs. Leadership PACs are a problem because they're personally controlled by individual legislators and, like other PACs in Maine, they have no contribution limits. We have long opposed them. These personal PACs allow an elected legislator or legislative candidate to circumvent the contribution limits that apply to individual candidate campaigns. They are already banned for candidates running under the Maine Clean Election Act. In our view, eliminating leadership PACs is one of the most important changes we can make in our campaign laws. We'll be supporting LD 361. If you miss the public hearing, you can submit written testimony anytime up to the date of the work session, which has not yet been scheduled.
A bit further down in the weeds, we'll also be opposing LD 202 An Act To Increase the Required Number of Qualifying Contributions Gubernatorial Candidates Must Obtain To Qualify as Maine Clean Election Act Candidates, supporting LD 219 An Act To Prohibit a Person from Collecting Contributions under the Maine Clean Election Act at a Polling Place, and supporting LD 411 Resolve, Directing the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices To Allow Maine Clean Election Act Funds To Be Used for Election Recounts.
State and Local Government (SLG), Cross Building Room 214, February 11, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Live Audio
By the time you read this, it will all be over, but we're supporting LD 257 An Act To Ensure That the Legislature Has the Information Necessary To Do the Work of the People of Maine. This bill would prohibit the Governor from limiting access to department commissioners and other executive branch personnel when the Legislature needs information from them to do its work.
Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (VLA), State House Room 437, February 13, beginning at 9:15 a.m. Live Audio
LD 211 An Act To Open Maine's Primaries and Permit Unenrolled Voters To Cast Ballots in Primary Elections will allow unenrolled voters in Maine to vote in the party primary of their choice without requiring party enrollment. We'll be using our new position on primaries and candidate selection systems to support LD 211. There is organized support for this bill, and we're expecting a crowd!
Coming Up Next Week
The week beginning February 18 is school vacation week. The legislature has sessions and committee meetings scheduled, but it's likely to be a slow week. One bill that will be heard is this:
State and Local Government (SLG), Cross Building Room 214, February 20, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Live Audio
LD 431 An Act To Make Election Day a State Holiday. We'll be NFNA.
Waiting in the Wings
In case you're interested, here are just some of the other bills we're watching: