Seven statewide questions face voters November 3. Four citizen initiatives, a bond question, a constitutional amendment, and a people’s veto will appear as questions on the referendum ballot.
Question 1 appears as a People’s Veto of the 2009 legislative approval of same-sex marriage. Nine registered Political Action Committees (PAC) and Ballot Question Committees have recorded $3,263,383 in financial support of the question.
Stand For Marriage Maine, Portland, $2,547,860; the Roman Catholic Diocese, Portland, $553,608; and, Focus on Family Maine Marriage Committee, Colorado, $114,500, are among financial supporters of Question 1.
Fifteen PACs have registered with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices and have recorded some $5,274,000 in financial contributions to oppose Question 1. No On One/Protect Maine Equality, Portland, $4,069,053; Equality Maine, Portland, $879,160; Maine Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Portland, $10,000; and, Catholics’ Statement of Conscience, Portland, $2,960 are among the contributing organizations.
Supporters of Question 1 also include the National Organization for Marriage, which on Monday lost favor with the United States District Court.
Judge D. Brock Hornby rejected a restraining order filed by NOM to prevent disclosure of its donors. The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices is currently investigating allegations NOM violated Maine law by failing to register with the state elections commission as a Ballot Question Committee, which is required of any group giving $5000 or more toward passage or defeat of a referendum.
NOM has given some $1.6 million to Stand For Marriage Maine, yet argues registering with the commission and releasing names of its donors is in violation of the First Amendment and its protection of free speech.
Judge Hornby rejected that notion Monday, declaring, “Maine has a strong and even compelling interest in helping the electorate assess the particular issue on its merits by providing voters with information about where the money supporting a measure has come from and therefore whose interest it serves.”
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has requested disclosure of donor names in advance of the November 3 referendum and urged NOM to comply with Maine election law.
Question 2 is a Citizen Initiative decrease the automobile excise tax and promote energy efficiency and reads, “Do you want to cut the rate of the municipal excise tax by an average of 55 percent on motor vehicles less than six years old and exempt hybrid and other alternative-energy and highly fuel-efficient motor vehicles from sales tax and three years of excise tax?”
Automobile excise taxes, collected by town and city governments, remain in municipal coffers and support local spending.
Four organizations have registered $64, 618 in financial support of Question 2. The Maine Heritage Policy Center of Portland ($42,040) and Maine Leads of Augusta ($16,387) are among supporters.
Seven groups have registered $2.3 million in donations against Question 2. Maine People’s Resource Center of Portland ($25,000), Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future of Augusta ($1,695,895), and Citizens Who Support Public Schools of Augusta ($650,000).
Question 3 is a Citizen’s Initiative to repeal a 2007 law mandating school district consolidation and asks, “Do you want to repeal the 2007 law on school district consolidation and restore the laws previously in effect?”
The law seeks to consolidate school districts into regional districts. Thus far 98 school districts have complied and some 126 have yet to form consolidation plans.
One organization has registered its support of Question 3 with the ethics commission. The Maine Coalition to Save Schools, Stonington, has raised $9,851.
Maine People for Improved School Education, Augusta, has raised $340,000 against the repeal effort.
Question 4 is a Citizen Initiative to limit taxes and reads, “Do you want to change the existing formulas that limit state and local government spending and require voter approval by referendum for spending over those limits and for increases in state taxes?”
Five groups, including Maine Leads, support its passage. Maine Leads was investigated by the Maine Commission on Governmental Elections and Ethics and found to be in violation of reporting requirements after failing to disclose the source of some $240,000 of donations raised in support signature gathering efforts that led to the creation of Question 4 beginning in 2007.
Political expenditures in support of Question 4 total more than $303,000 and include Maine Leads, Augusta ($16,387), Bruce Poliquin Yes on Question 4, Bath ($85,496), Maine Heritage Policy Center, Portland, $42,040, and TABOR Now, Augusta, $159,096.
Eight groups financially oppose Question 4 and have raised some $2.3 million in financial support. Opponents include The Maine Center for Economic Policy, Augusta, $5,891; Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future, Augusta, $1,695,895; and, Citizen’s Who Support Maine’s Public Schools, Augusta, $650,000.
Question 5 asks voters “Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?”
The proposed law would increase conditions for which Maine doctors could prescribe marijuana to include cancer, glaucoma, hepatitis C Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crohn’s disease and others and would allow people to petition the Department of Health and Human Services to include other medical conditions. The law would allow those with prescriptions to possess two and a half ounces of marijuana and up to six plants, contained indoors in a locked facility.
Financial support or opposition of the question is limited to one organization. Maine Citizens for Patients Rights, Lewiston, has recorded $48,025 raised in support of Question 5.
Question 6 is the sole bond issue facing voters. It seeks $71 million for highway, bridges, airports, public transit, LifeFlight, and port and ferry improvements, which would open $148 million in matching federal funds.
No opposition or support of the bond has been registered with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
Question 7 is a Constitutional Amendment and asks, “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to increase the amount of time that local officials have to certify the signatures on direct initiative petitions?”
The changes would give local officials ten additional days to certify signatures petition efforts from a current 50 days after the convening of the Legislature to 60 days.
Political campaign finance reports, detailed by referendum question, are recorded with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices and are available online.