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February 23, 2009
Contact: Matthew Dunlap

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap Announces Results of Certification of Five Citizen Initiatives

Four Initiatives Move on to Legislature

AUGUSTA , MAINE — Officials at the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions today completed work on preparing certification of five proposed citizen-initiated efforts to bring bills to the Maine Legislature. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap finalized his decisions today in accordance with provisions of Maine's Constitution and notified proponents of the initiatives of his findings, based on the concluded process conducted by department staff.

Article IV, Part Third, Section 18 of the Maine Constitution provides for the citizen initiative. In order for the Legislature to consider bills proposed directly by the people, proponents must file an application with the Secretary of State, work with the Legislature's Revisor of Statutes to draft legislation, and then include that proposed legislation on the petition form prepared by the Secretary of State. Copies of that approved form may be made and circulated, and proponents must gather at least 55,087 signatures—10% of turnout in the previous gubernatorial election—which are first verified as registered voters in the towns where those voters live, and then finally certified by the Secretary of State. No signature can be more than one year old when submitted, and proponents must file their petitions within 18 months of the date the petition form was approved for circulation by the Secretary of State in order for the effort to be validated. In order to be considered by the Legislature during the current session, proponents must submit their petitions to the Secretary of State by the 50 th day after the convening of the First Regular Session, or January 22nd . The Secretary of State then has 30 days to certify the petitions.

“This has been an extraordinary effort,” said Dunlap. “I can't think of a time in Maine history when this office has faced the challenge of certifying five initiatives at once. It took the efforts of every employee in the Bureau, with help from staff in other bureaus within the department and even the secretaries and deputies in the central office, but we got it done, and done right,” he said. Certification is a multi-step process requiring review not only of each signature, but also of the qualifications of circulators and proper notarization of documents, as well as disqualifying acts for each signature, such as signing multiple times (only one can count) and not being a registered voter, among other conditions.

Four of the five— An Act to Repeal the School District Consolidation Laws, An Act to Decrease the Automobile Excise Tax and Promote Energy Efficiency, An Act to Provide Tax Relief, and An Act to Establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act all met the Constitutional thresholds outlined above. The fifth initiative, An Act to Expand Affordable Health Insurance Choices in Maine fell short of the required 55,087 signatures needed for certification.

“I want to congratulate the successful proponents of these efforts for getting to this point,” Dunlap said. “I especially am grateful to the staff I work with for ensuring that the Legislature will receive these documents in a timely manner. Folks have worked six days a week for almost three months to make sure that these certifications were completed.”

With the certification of the initiatives complete, challengers to the decision of the Secretary of State have five business days to challenge any or all of the decisions relating to the five initiatives. Once that challenge period has passed, the Secretary of State will transmit the initiated bills to the Legislature for consideration.