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July 9, 2018

Dear Members and Friends of LWVME,

It's Veto Day in the State Legislature. The House and Senate are in session beginning at 10:00 this morning. No further session days have been scheduled, but that does not mean that they will finish work today. There are dozens of gubernatorial vetoes to be addressed, with the legislature able to override those vetoes with a 2/3 majority in each chamber. That's a lot of work right there, but other big issues still remain unresolved, including tax conformity, a possible transportation bond, and a fix for the Clean Elections Error Bill.  We're not sure whether the legislature will finally adjourn if those issues have not been addressed. Here is the schedule for this week.

Just to recap about Clean Elections and where we stand on two different problems.

Funding for Clean Elections 1
We are not hearing that there's a deal yet on the Clean Elections Errors Bill. This problem relates to the authorization to disburse already-allocated Clean Elections funds beginning on July 1, 2018. For the background on that, see this prior week's Action Under the Dome. John Brautigam wrote a strong op-ed for the Bangor Daily News this week that makes the case for fixing the Errors Bill.

Candidates and voters from all parties have been relying on the Clean Elections program. This funding 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 or to change the rules in the middle of the election cycle. Tell your representatives how much you want them to fix this problem. You can find contact information here. Find some additional talking points for your call on our web site.

Funding for Clean Elections 2
Meanwhile, there's another, totally separate problem. On Friday, June 22, the Ethics Commission distributed a memorandum announcing that the Governor had declined to sign routine financial orders to release money to candidates from the Maine Clean Election Fund. This one relates to the authority to disburse already-allocated funds prior to June 30, 2018. As a result, payments to candidates certified to participate in the Clean Election program will be reduced to around 25% of the amount for which they qualified. The Clean Election Fund has sufficient cash to pay candidates the entire amount for which they qualified, but the governor's refusal to authorize the release of funds prevents the use of that cash.

On Thursday, June 28, our partners at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections took the governor to court. You can read the court documents for yourself at our web site. The MCCE brief was just filed on Friday, and it's really strong.

We're not going to take it lying down! Follow the action with us on email and on our web site at www.lwvme.org.


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