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Dear Members and Friends of LWVME,

The Legislature will be in full session this week beginning on Tuesday at 10:00. You can see their schedule for the week here

New This Week

Ranked Choice Voting
Read League President Jill Ward's op-ed today in the Bangor Daily News. The League of Women Voters of Maine is calling for faithful implementation of RCV for the June primaries in 2018 and for allocating any resources that might be needed. Elections matter; let's get to work; let's get this right. 

The people's veto campaign to restore ranked choice voting delivered over 70,000 signatures to the Secretary of State by the deadline of Friday, February 2. In doing so, they immediately suspended the law passed by the Legislature that delayed implementation of RCV. Put another way, RCV goes ahead for the 2018 primaries IF 61,123 out of those 70,000 signatures are certified.  This not only requires use of RCV for the June primaries, but also puts the people’s veto on the ballot in the same election. Since the number of signatures far exceeds the required threshold, we are confident that the veto question will qualify for the June ballot.  The Secretary of State has 30 days -- until March 5 -- to verify the signatures and certify the question for the June ballot. Read more at www.lwvme.org.

Voter ID
The Governor's bill has just been printed. It's LD 1846, An Act To Require the Provision of Photographic Identification by Voters. It appears to be similar boilerplate language to what has been introduced and defeated each session since 2010. You can read the League's testimony on the photo ID bill from last year. Even though we have defeated this measure in Maine numerous times before, we can't take anything for granted this year.

Governor LePage used his Friday radio address on January 5 to reopen the Voter ID issue. You can find the radio address here MP3 Audio, Text version. The Bangor Daily News reported that the Speaker of the House is promising to block the move. We'll be watching, too. We have repeatedly and consistently opposed requiring a photo ID to vote, and we'll be there this year, too.

Coming Up in the Legislature
Gathering Signatures at the Polls on Election Day
Veterans and Legal Affairs (VLA), State House Room 437, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Live Audio
LD 1726 An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Elections will get another work session in the VLA Committee today, Monday, February 26. The League will be there. You'll remember that LD 1726 is the bill that would ban signature gathering for citizen initiatives at polling places on Election Day. The public hearing on this bill was held in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (VLA) on Wednesday, January 3 You can read the League's testimony here. The sentiment from the public hearing was overwhelmingly opposed. The VLA Committee seems divided, with some members in favor of elminating the controversial provisions and some looking for a way to institute some limits. If your legislator serves on the VLA Committee, you may want to let them know your views. You can find contact information for committee members here.

Recap from Past Weeks
Funding for Clean Elections
LD 1780 An Act to Transfer Funds to the Maine Clean Election Fund To Provide Adequate Funding for Maine Clean Election Fund Candidates
No change from last week. This bill had its public hearing last Wednesday, and LWVME testified in support of LD 1780. We now have 9 candidates hoping to qualify as Clean Election candidates for Governor (3 Democrats, 1 Republican, 2 Greens, and 3 independents). That's really great! Thanks to our hard work last session with our partners at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, we secured the baseline funding for Clean Elections in the state budget. With this heightened level of candidate participation, the Ethics Commission is playing it safe and requesting additional funding to make sure we don't run out. The fund has never run out before in the 18-year history of the program, and we don't want to start now.  We will continue advocating for full funding until final action on LD 1780.

Presidential Primaries vs. Caucuses
No change from last week. On January 3, the Office of the Secretary of State delivered its Report Regarding Establishing a Presidential Primary System in Maine. The requirement for this report was created by the 127th Legislature, which passed a presidential primary law and directed the Secretary of State to examine state and municipal costs for conducting such a primary and report back by December 1, 2017. The legislation enacted in 2016 includes an automatic repeal provision with an effective date of December 1, 2018.  Therefore, if the legislature does not take action this session, our presidential nominations will revert to the caucus system and not primaries. There has been no action so far.

Old News
Amending the Constitution for Citizen Initiatives
It's not new this week, but we thought you'd want to know. LD 31,
RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Require That Signatures on a Direct Initiative of Legislation Come from Each Congressional District was carried over from the first session. It was taken up in the VLA Committee as one of their first actions in the second session and reported out on January 18 with a divided report (11 voting Ought to Pass as Amended; 1 voting Ought Not to Pass). The bill has not yet been taken up on the floor in either chamber, but it could come up at any time. If you want to let your legislators know your views on this measure, you can find contact information here.
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