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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2009
Contact: Matthew Dunlap
626-8400

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap Releases for Public Comment the Proposed Ballot Questions on Four Citizen Initiatives Heading for Fall Vote

AUGUSTA, MaineóMaine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap announced today that his office was releasing drafts of questions that will be presented to Maine voters this November 3rd. Under the law, the public will have 30 days to comment on the draft questions that have been prepared.

The Maine Constitution, Article IV, Part Third, Section 18 provides for legislation by citizen initiative. In order for a proposal to move forward, a number of signatures of registered Maine voters equivalent to 10% of the votes cast at the last gubernatorial election must be certified by the Secretary of State. That number this year is 55,087 signatures. Once the signatures are certified, the legislation is transmitted to the Legislature.

Four citizen initiatives were certified on February 23 rd by the Secretary of State and transmitted to the Legislature. Members of the House and Senate had the option of enacting the measures into law or sending them to the voters for a final determination. The Legislature could not amend or alter the measures in any way.  Because they were not enacted without change, each measure must now be voted on at the upcoming November election.

The proposed wording for the four initiative questions that voters will decide on, along with links to the text of the proposed statutory language for each initiative , are as follows:

An Act to Decrease the Automobile Excise Tax and Promote Energy Efficiency
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/excisetaxlegislation.html

"Do you want to cut the rate of the excise tax on newer vehicles that owners pay to towns by about half and exempt some energy-efficient vehicles from the sales tax?"

An Act to Provide Tax Relief
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/propertytaxrelief.html

"Do you want to change Maine law to require voter approval for state and local tax and spending increases over certain limits?"

An Act to Repeal the School District Consolidation Laws
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/repealschoolconsolidation.html

"Do you want to repeal the 2007 law on school consolidation and restore the laws previously in effect?"

An Act to Establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/medicalmarijuanaact.html

"Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to expand the methods of distribution?"

Secretary Dunlap noted that Maine law, Title 21-A MRSA Section 905-A, requires that the Secretary of State "provide a 30-day public comment period for the purpose of receiving comments on the content and form of proposed questions to be placed on the ballot for any pending initiatives." Written public comments on any of the four proposed questions may be filed with the Secretary of State by email at sos.office@maine.gov; by mail at Secretary of State, Attn: Public Comment, 148 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0148; or by hand at the Secretary of State's office at Nash School, 103 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine. Public comments must be received by the Secretary of State prior to the close of business on July 27, 2009.

The questions were drafted by the Secretary of State with assistance from senior staff, the Attorney General's office, and volunteer experts serving as Ballot Clarity Advisors.

"The Maine Constitution and the laws that emanate from it are designed to facilitate full citizen involvement in the formation of public policy," Dunlap said. "Our job is to provide the forum for that engagement, and to lend as much integrity to the process as we can. I am looking forward to the comments on what we have rendered so far," he said.

For further information, please visit the Secretary of State's website at www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/proposedquestions.html .