Report from the Statehouse: VLA Work Session April 10, Elections

by Ann Luther

Last day before the 60% deadline. The Committee continues to work efficiently and in a bipartisan fashion. They did four liquor bills first, then turned to the election bills of interest to us.

  • LD 858 An Act To Better Inform the Public of Election Results.
    Action: OTP-Amended to stipulate “where feasible.”
  • LD 744 An Act To Permit Unenrolled Voters To Cast Ballots in Primary Elections. No specific objections, vague concerns about cost. No visible support. Read the League’s testimony on this and other bills this session here.
    Action: Ought Not To Pass (Unanimous)
  • LD 720 An Act To Establish an Open Primary System in the State. Pending citizen action on ranked choice voting cited. No visible support.
    Action: ONTP (Unanimous) Read the League’s testimony on this and other bills this session here.
  • LD 770 An Act To Permit Maine Residents To Register To Vote Online. No visible support. Read the League’s testimony on this and other bills this session here.
    Action: ONTP (Unanimous)
  • LD 677 An Act To Amend the Election Laws Concerning Candidates and Nominees. This bill had to do with banning the practice in both parties of running “paper candidates” and then replacing them at the last minute. There was some support in the committee for this, but in the end, it fell to the deadline and the practical considerations of changing it.
    Action : ONTP (Unanimous)

At the end of the afternoon, they had made their 60% deadline! Congratulations all around.

But then, just before they adjourned, Rep. Monaghan moved reconsideration of LD 174. This had to do with banning leadership PACs for both privately and publicly funded candidates, instead of just for publicly funded candidates. You will recall from Wednesday’s blog post that some committee members were supportive of this approach, believing it to be more fair to candidates on both sides, and had intended on Wednesday to sign onto a minority report. But the vote on LD 174 (banning leadership PACs only for Clean Elections candidates) was taken before they realized what they had to do procedurally to get a minority report. So the question was revisited at the end of the session on Friday. After a little parliamentary snafu, the committee voted unanimously to allow reconsideration. Rep Luchini made his same motion to amend, banning only Clean Elections candidates from having leadership PACs. Rep. Chenette was invited to the table to make his pitch for a both-sides ban. Then Sen. Collins promptly called for a “caucus,” the secretive practice whereby committee members huddle by political party behind closed doors to say off-mike what they don’t want to say on the record and choreograph their public votes along party lines. So they caucused. When they came, they took a vote and, lo and behold, it was unanimous OTP as Amended. No minority report.

Everyone, including me, headed out with well-wishes for a good weekend.

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