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August 6, 2009
CONTACT: Matt Dunlap (207)626-8400

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap Releases Final Referendum Questions

AUGUSTA, Maine—After a statutory public comment period, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap finalized four referendum questions today that will appear on the ballot for voters to decide on the November 3, 2009 referendum ballot.

The four citizen initiatives were certified by Dunlap in February after staff at the State Division of Elections within the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions determined that each had met the constitutional requirement of presenting not fewer than 55,087 signatures of registered Maine voters in order to present a proposed new law to the Legislature for consideration. A fifth initiative fell short of the requirements.

With the Legislature having declined to adopt the proposals, the next step in the constitutional process is to subject them to a statewide vote in the next election, which will be held in November. The Secretary of State is charged with drafting the questions to be posed to the voters on the ballot. Maine law (Title 21-A MRSA Section 905-A) stipulates that before a ballot question is finalized the Secretary must “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.”

“We received about 65 comments from individuals and organizations. Some supported all the questions as written, and many made technical suggestions for clarification, which was very enlightening and helpful,” Dunlap said. “The intent of the law was to engage the public and get their input to help us write the best possible questions, and I believe we’ve done just that.”

Dunlap noted that several of the proposals are technically complex, and that makes the crafting of simple, easy-to-understand questions difficult. “We spent several hours on the first drafts with volunteers on the ballot clarity advisory board, the Attorney General’s office, and others. The feedback from the public has led to more changes, which we hope will more closely capture the essence of the proposals and convey clearly to the voter what it will mean to vote either yes or no on these questions.”

The titles of the initiated bills are listed below accompanied by the questions that will appear on the ballot:

An Act to Decrease the Automobile Excise Tax and Promote Energy Efficiency

“Do you want to cut the rate of the municipal excise tax by an average of 55% 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?”

An Act to Provide Tax Relief

“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?”

An Act to Repeal the School District Consolidation Laws

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

An Act to Establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act

“Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution?”

Dunlap noted that the actual order in which the questions will appear on the ballot is not yet determined, as certification is underway on a People’s Veto petition and another veto petition is currently circulating. The ballot order will be determined by drawing later this summer.