Bill could keep unconstitutional referendums off of Maine’s ballot, sponsor says

There is a public hearing Friday morning on a bill that would allow lawmakers to challenge referendum proposals before they head to voters. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- A public hearing is being held Friday in Augusta on a bill, its sponsor says could keep unconstitutional referendums off of Maine's Ballot.

Republican Senator Eric Brakey wrote the proposal.

If passed, the bill would change Maine's constitution by allowing the governor, attorney general, 1/3 of the legislature, or 500 citizens to challenge any referendum proposal they believe is unconstitutional within 10 days of it being approve to be on the ballot.

From there, a request would be made to the Maine Supreme Court to issue their opinion on whether or not the proposal is unconstitutional; they'd have 30 days to respond.

If the majority of justices rule the proposal unconstitutional, the state could reject the referendum and it would not go on Maine ballot, if not, it would move forward.

"We've seen with a lot of the referendums forward finance but special interest groups come forward and put things forward that directly conflict with parts of the Constitution, including undermining and restricting the rights of the people that are put there specifically to protect our state constitution,” Senator Brakey said.

"This attempts to shortcut that and say that the justices and opinions on hypothetical cases because there is no law yet, can by their opinions, veto what the people put forward as a citizen initiative,” Christopher Johnson, former senator from Lincoln County, said.

If the bill passes, Mainers would have the option to vote on it in May.

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