Carter-Aimed Bills Assure Over Taxation Forever

Tomorrow (March 1st) in Augusta at 10 a.m. in Room 436 of the State House, four anti-referendum proposals will be heard before the Committee on Legal and Veterans Affairs: Increase the required signatures by 50% (LD 59), require a certain number of signatures from each of 16 Maine counties (LD 123), tell groups how often they can bring a defeated issue back to referendum (LD 199), and the worst one of all (LD 580) would prohibit collection of signatures anywhere in Maine on state election days.

LD 59 will make putting a tax reduction question before the Maine voters an impossibility by requiring signatures equal to 15% of the number of people who voted in the previous election for Governor. This mean little bill is sponsored by Rep. Art Mayo of Bath and cosponsored by Senator John Netting of Leeds, Senator Michael McAlevey of Waterboro, Senator Kevin Shorey of Calais, Rep Joe Bruno (Republican Floor Leader) of Raymond, Rep Eleanor Murphy of Berwick and Rep David Trahan of Waldoboro. Except for Senator Nutting, all are republicans.

Keep in mind that the four groups out trying to collect signatures of registered Maine voters on approved petitions for four issues last year were not able to get enough signatures at the 10% threshold to submit their petitions this year. Thats how tough the process is now.

LD 123 tells you where you have to get the signatures by requiring at least 5% of the signatures come from each of the sixteen counties. Thats nuts! They have obviously never done a referendum themselves. The process is already so hard that most groups fail to get the signatures and now they want to direct where those signatures come from. This bill of citizen petition torture is sponsored by: Rep Arthur Mayo of Bath and cosponsored by Senator John Nutting of Leeds, Senator McAlevey of York, Senator Michael Michaud of Millinocket, Senator Christine Savage of Union, Rep Joe Bruno (Republican Floor Leader) of Raymond, Rep Roderick Carr of Lincoln, Rep Theodore Heidrich of Oxford, Rep Christopher ONeil of Saco, Rep Royce Perkins of Penobscot, Rep John Richardson of Brunswick, and Rep David Trahan of Waldoboro.

LD 199 tells you how often you can begin collecting signatures to put a defeated issue on the ballot. It requires a rest time of 6 years.

Your dog will be dead in that length of time and your momentum will be too.

This play-out-the-clock gem is sponsored by Rep Walter Gooley of Farmington and cosponsored by Senator Norman Ferguson of Hanover, Senator Christine Savage of Union, Senator Kevin Shorey of Calais, Rep Roderick Carr of Lincoln, Rep Clifton Foster of Gray, Rep Roger Sherman of Hodgdon, Rep Stephen Stanley of Medway, and Rep Thomas Winsor of Norway.

Saving the worst for last is a constitutional slap in the face, LD 580, sponsored by Rep Stephen Stanley of Medway and cosponsored by Rep Roderick Carr of Lincoln and Matthew Dunlap of Old Town. It makes it illegal to collect petition signatures anywhere in Maine on state election days. If this bill passes, the provision that ordinary citizens can bring an issue to referendum will be gone. Only powerful special interests like those headed by Jonathan Carter will be organized enough and well-heeled enough to pay for signature collection at malls, post offices and grocery stores. The days of unpaid volunteers being able to sit at the polls and collect signatures of registered voters as they leave the polls will be gone. The polls are the lifeline of the referendum process for the little guys.

Youll notice that most sponsors and cosponsors of these damaging bills are from rural, not urban, areas. This is likely because forest industry lobbyists have the idea stuck in their heads that if the referendum process is strangled, it will be tougher for Jonathan Carter to bring his anti-forestry bills to referendum.

They are wrong. They cant see the forest for the trees. All of these bills have to be defeated else Jonathan will be the only one who can bring an issue to referendum!

Jonathan Carter types have the money and the organizational networking with other environmental groups to assure that their shut-down-the-economy efforts will prevail despite the additional barriers. The unpaid, volunteer groups which want to make taxes an issue in the future will be closed out. The very people the initiative was designed for will be disenfranchised.

Remember that the state property tax repeal was a citizen effort of unpaid volunteers who used the initiative referendum. The snack tax repeal was brought to the legislature by citizen petition.

These four proposed bills are another example of good people with bad ideas which have to be defeated or the provision guaranteeing the direct citizen initiative in the Maine constitution, while still there, will be all but worthless.

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