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Dear Members and Friends of LWVME,

Statutory adjournment is just two days away -- Wednesday, April 18.  State government is closed today, Monday, for the Patriots' Day holiday. With lots of work yet to be done, the legislature will be in full session Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. You can see their full schedule for the week here. It's likely to be a late night on Wednesday.

Recap on Where Things Stand Going into the Final Days
Ranked Choice Voting
Ranked choice voting was back in court on Thursday last week. Senate Republicans are suing the Secretary of State to stop ranked choice voting. The Secretary of State, represented by attorneys from the office of the Attorney General, is arguing that it should go forward. The Maine Supreme Judical Court heard oral arguments last Thursday, and they have this case on a fast track. You can read the League's amicus brief here. All the other court records are also available online. Final proofing of ballots for the June 12 primary is on deadline for April 20 at the latest. We do not expect a decision today because of the holiday, but it could come any time after that.

Key factors in the case were rebalanced last week when Secretary of State Matt Dunlap sent a letter to the Legislature on April 9 explaining that he didn't need any more money from the legislature to implement RCV for the June primary. At oral argument in court on Thursday, the justices seemed skeptical of the Senate's case. But you never know ....

At this writing, we still expect to have ranked choice voting in the June primary. If so, we will have ranked choice voting in the Republican and Democratic primaries for governor, in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District, and in the Republican primary for State Representative in District 75 (Turner, Leeds, Livermore).

Elections matter. Let’s work together to get this right.

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. 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 on Wednesday. Let your representatives know that you support LD 1780. You can find contact information here.

Amending the Maine State Constitution for Citizen Initiatives

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
LD 31 failed final passage last week. This bill got majority votes in both the House and the Senate but could not clear the high bar required of a constitutional amendment: it failed to garner a 2/3 majority in the House. It's over for this year.

More on Regulating Citizen Initiative Campaigns
LD 1865 An Act to Increase Transparency in the Initiative Process
This after-deadline bill had its public hearing and work session weeks ago, and got reported out of committee with an 11-2 divided report, Ought to Pass as Amended. The amended bill contains some important new provisions for the disclosure of large donations to citizen initiative campaigns, which we support. It also includes strict new limits on who can serve as a notary public on citizen initiative campaigns. It has been appearing on the House calendar and was finally taken up last week but immediately got tabled.

Voter ID
No new developments. The Governor's bill has been printed but has not yet been referred to committee. 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. The Bangor Daily News reported that the Speaker of the House is promising to block the bill. 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.
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 or enthusiasm to work this so far.

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