Every election counts! Every vote counts! On Tuesday, November 7th we will have an opportunity to voice our concerns by voting on local and state issues. Below are summaries of the eight state questions (Yes or No) Please read, learn and ask questions. More than ever local and state issues affect us the most and more than ever it is important to get out and vote. The presidential election is next year. This year? We cannot be asleep. We must demonstrate that we are aware and that we care.
Questions 1-4 are citizen initiated
Question 1: An Act to Require Voter Approval of Certain Borrowing by Government-controlled Entities and Utilities and to Provide Voters More Information Regarding That Borrowing. Do you want to bar some quasi-governmental entities and all consumer-owned electric utilities from taking on more than $1 billion in debt unless they get statewide voter approval?
Vote YES on Question 1 to support requiring voter approval for more than $1B in debt. A YES on Question 1 helps to rein in spending (and thus lower taxes) by requiring voter approval, for such large projects. This would apply to state entities, municipal electric districts, electrification cooperatives, or consumer-owned transmission utilities. As Willy Ritch, executive director of No Blank Checks, states “If we are going to be on the hook for billions of dollars in government debt, voters should get the final say on whether to take that on.”.
Question 2: An Act to Prohibit Campaign Spending by Foreign Governments and Promote an Anticorruption Amendment to the United States Constitution. Do you want to ban foreign governments and entities that they own, control, or influence from making campaign contributions or financing communications for or against candidates or ballot questions?
Vote NO on Question 2 to allow foreign contributions. Governor Mills opinion is that the language of the bill is too broad, likely resulting in the unintended consequence of silencing legitimate voices, including Maine-based businesses, in debates that would impact their interests.
Many Maine Companies have some foreign connections that have benefitted Maine businesses, helping them to succeed. A NO vote would allow foreign governments or entities with ownership, control or influence over a Maine company to contribute to candidates or influence ballot questions.
Question 3: An Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company, a Nonprofit, Customer-owned Utility.Do you want to create a new power company governed by an elected board to acquire and operate existing for-profit electricity transmission and distribution facilities in Maine?
Vote NO on Question 3 to retain availability of affordable and reliable electrical power supply in Maine. Question 3 is an Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company, a nonprofit customer-owned utility. It would force CMP and Versant to sell their assets to a new public power authority, Pine Tree Power, through eminent domain. CMP and Versant are private companies, not currently for sale, The estimated cost to ratepayers is $13.5B. This would allow Pine Tree Power to purchase and acquire all investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities in Maine. Per the Office of Public Advocate, Pine Tree Power would be exempt from paying the $13 million in federal income taxes and $3.4 million state income taxes now paid by CMP and Versant.
Both democrats and republicans have advised to vote NO on this question. On July 21, 2023, Senator Mathew Harrington, who represents Maine District 33, Sanford, Waterboro, Alfred, and Lebanon, in a Letter to the Editor of The York Weekly, came out against Question 3 stating “The debt that comes with taking over the utilities – an estimated $13.5 billion – is three times the entire state budget. And it would take Maine citizens decades to pay off that debt through our electric bills.” GOVERNOR MILLS agrees with this concern. In her September 20th, 2023, radio address, she came out in opposition to this initiative, listing the $13.5B cost as a major concern. “Because Question 3 is a hostile take-over of our utilities with eminent domain, we are guaranteed to go to court and be tied up in litigation for years, if not decades. That leaves our utilities in a dangerous state of limbo when we can least afford it.”
Question 4: An Act Regarding Automotive Right to Repair. Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities?
Vote NO on Question 4 to let the free market solve the problem. The underlying issue here is one of property rights. If an auto maker or entrepreneur develops new technology for a vehicle that idea and innovation belongs to them. As inconvenient as that may be, they are well within their right to manage the accessibility of that technology however they wish. If a corporation chooses to restrict and limit the usability or repairability of their product, they may be able to monetize it in creative ways, but they are also providing a market advantage to competitors who wish to be more open with their technology. This has been on display with smartphones, for example, as the Android operating system was developed to be more open and accessible in order to capture market share from Apple. In the end, the free market will solve this problem over time if allowed to operate without government intervention.
Questions 5 – 8 are proposed constitutional amendments drafted
by the legislature and passed by the House and Senate requiring a two-thirds majority.
Question 5: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine Regarding the Timing of Judicial Review of the Determination of the Validity of Written Petitions. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to change the time period for judicial review of the validity of written petitions from within 100 days from the date of filing to within 100 business days from the date of filing of a written petition in the office of the Secretary of State, with an exception for petitions filed within 30 calendar days before or after a general election?
Vote YES on Question 5 to allow our legislators a few more days for judicial review of the validity of written petitions by changing the wording from 100 days to 100 business days of the date of filing of a written petition in the office of the Secretary of State, with an exception for petitions filed within 30 calendar days before or after a general election. Voting YES is reasonable.
Question 6: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Require All Provisions in the Constitution to Be Included in the Official Printing. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to require that all of the provisions of the Constitution be included in the official printed copies of the Constitution prepared by the Secretary of State?
Vote NO on Question 6 since the rights and responsibilities of the state and Wabanaki Nations are not defined by the treaties reference in Section 5, but by the state and federal statutes of the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980.
And, whether Maine voters approve or reject this question, nothing practically changes in Maine law. The constitutional provisions in question were removed from printing because they were referring to things that were no longer applicable to the operation of Maine state government. In an opposition letter, Gov. Mills wrote that this proposal solves no ”real world” problems and only creates additional confusion. The provisions still hold the force of law (even though they are outdated) and adding them back into the printed version of the Constitution changes nothing about the status of these provisions or their legal validity.
Question 7: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Align the Proceedings for Circulating Written Petitions for People’s Vetoes and Direct Initiatives with Federal Law. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision requiring a circulator of a citizen’s initiative or people’s veto petition to be a resident of Maine and a registered voter in Maine, requirements that have been ruled unconstitutional in federal court?
Vote YES on Question 7. The intent of this proposed amendment to the Maine Constitution is to remove a provision that can no longer be enforced due to an injunction issued by a federal court.
Question 8: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Allow Persons Under Guardianship for Mental Illness to Be Electors. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision prohibiting a person under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from voting for Governor, Senators and Representatives, which the United States District Court for the District of Maine found violates the United States Constitution and federal law?
Vote NO on Question 8 which would mean that those under guardianship would be allowed to be electors. A better option than approving Question 8 (which would not allow those under guardianship to be electors) would be to offer an amendment that more precisely defines mental incapacity rather than simply removing the prohibition with nothing to replace it. Ultimately, a “yes” vote would align the state Constitution with the District Court’s ruling and a “no” vote would necessitate a future amendment to clarify the definition of mental incapacity. Regardless of the outcome of this question, those in guardianship would still be permitted to vote in Maine due to the District Court’s ruling.
Article II, Section 1 of the Maine Constitution states that individuals with mental illness under guardian ship are not allowed to vote. Guardianship, sometimes referred to as conservatorship is defined as “a legal proceeding where a person or entity (the guardian) is granted the authority to make decisions for another person (the ward.)” The purpose of this provision of the Constitution was to ensure that citizens with mental illness who are unable to make decisions for themselves are prevented from voting. Not only are such individuals incapable of reasoning normally, but they are also susceptible to being manipulated or used by others.