Report from the Statehouse: VLA Public Hearing May 4

By Helen Hanlon

L.D. 1189 (An Act To make Certain Local Primaries Non Partisan)

Thankfully, our bill was first up in the VLA Committee hearings today. Very fortunate for me because there were tons of folks there for the second bill LD 1343 (An Act to Increase Access to Post-Secondary Education For Maine National Guard members), and I was able to get out post-haste.

L.D. 1189 was presented by Rep. Kumeiga (representing Stonington, Cranberry and other Isles). There was discussion as to why this bill was before VLA because other similar measures were heard before SLG this year. No one had an answer, but Rep. Turner who serves on both committees felt this bill should have been combined with others before SLG.

Senator Collins questioned why this bill was being presented now? Is it related to the Governor’s race, he asked. No, Rep. Kumeiga replied, it arose from a constituent’s questions.

Senator Cyrway asked how to decide what positions (ie: sheriff) were or were not partisan. Rep. Schneck, though, seemed positive that this measure could reduce the negative effects of a three-way race.

No testimony was presented either for or against.

Melissa Packard of the Election Section of the Secretary of State’s office testified NFNO but seemed generally supportive if some minor changes were made. She suggested that aspects of the Bill could be confusing to the voter and that the title was misleading.

The League also testified NFNO. Of note here is the great job Polly Ward and Ann Luther did in writing the League testimony. Even though (thankfully!) no one asked me a question, I could tell the Committee was reading along with the testimony and seemed to grasp the issues raised. Secondly, the testimony offered RCV as an alternative, and this presented a good opportunity for other folks in the room (staffers, general public) to hear more about the merits of RCV. Rep Kumiega thanked the League for testifying.



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