On November 7 th, Maine voters will be asked to cast a ballot on a constitutional amendment, which will read:
Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to state that a citizens’ initiative or people’s veto petition must be submitted to local or state officials by the constitutional deadline in order to be certified and, in the case of a citizens’ initiative, must be filed with the Secretary of State within 18 months?
Question 2 proposes to amend the way in which the Constitution regulates the citizen petition process on the state level. Specifically, the resolution establishes that: 1) citizen-initiated petitions be returned to the Secretary of State’s Office (Secretary) no later than 18 months after the petition form was furnished or approved by the Secretary (up from a one-year period currently established by statute); and 2) no signature submitted to municipal election officials after the deadline already established in the Constitution (i.e., no later than 10 days before the petition must be submitted to the Secretary) may be certified by those local officials.
As proposed, the amendment to the Constitution would authorize petitioners to submit signatures to the Secretary within 25 or 50 days after the convening of the Legislature (depending on the legislative session), provided that the petition is filed within eighteen months of being furnished and approved by the Secretary. Under exiting statue (Title 21-A, Section 903-A), a citizen initiative must be submitted to the Secretary within one year of the date the Secretary issues the certified petition to the petitioners. Extending the 12-month period to collect and file signatures to an 18-month period will serve to correct the problem with the underlying statute that resulted in the Supreme Court decision that allowed the after-deadline acceptance of TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) petitions.
As currently provided in the Constitution, petitioners are required to submit collected signatures to the municipal clerk ten business days before the signatures must be submitted to the Secretary. Once submitted, the municipal clerk has five days to certify that the signatures belong to registered voters. Although the Constitution clearly provides a deadline, the provision does not have an enforcement clause. Nothing in the Constitution establishes what happens if petition circulators miss the deadline for submitting signatures to the municipal clerk. Question 2 offers to remedy that problem by adding a provision in the Constitution that prevents municipal clerks from verifying signatures submitted after the 10-day deadline.
At its September meeting, MMA’s Executive Committee voted to support Question 2.
ANNUAL REPORT COMPETITION
Winners of the 2006 Municipal Report Competition were announced by MMA in early October.
Three winners are chosen in each of the five population categories judged in the competition.
Top honors, the Supreme award, were bestowed upon Carrabassett Valley (pop. 0-499), Eagle Lake (pop. 500-999), Union (pop. 1,000-2,499), Waldoboro (pop. 2,500-4,999), and Augusta (pop. 5,000 and over).
Second place finishers, the Superior award, included Charlotte (pop. 0-499), Brooksville (pop. 500-999), Castine (pop. 1,000-2,499), Thomaston(pop. 2,500-4,999), and Caribou (pop. 5,000 and over).
Third place, the Excellence award, was given to Cranberry Isles (pop. 0-499), Alna (pop. 500-999), Guilford (pop. 1,000-2,499), China (pop. 2,500-4,999)and Falmouth (pop. 5,000 and over).
Judges for this year's competition were Geneva Punch of Key Bank, Lynn Randall, Maine State Law Library, and Liz Chapman, longtime Maine newspaper reporter.
New officers and MMA Executive Committee members for 2007 were elected in August. Nick Mavadones, city councilor in Portland, was elected president and Anne Swift-Kayatta, Cape Elizabeth town councilor, was elected vice president.
Newly elected members of the Executive Committee are Steve Bunker, Farmington selectman, Scott Harriman, Baileyville town manager and John Sylvester, Alfred selectman.
Finishing up their terms on the Executive Committee are Ruth Marden, Jay town manager, and Andrew Hart, Union town manager.