We're one day early, but happy July 4th! The story of America is the story of many. We're a country with one of the most bold, promising, uncomfortable, traumatic, and dynamic legacies. We're the melting pot of the world, filled with movements of people coming together to fight for our rights and democracy.
Today, we're celebrating the good. While most states introduced voter suppression bills this year, Maine continues to protect our voters and our elections. That's something to celebrate.
Here are your weekly updates 👇
We feel like we say this every week, but there's still work to do in the Legislature. We know things should wrap up soon so that we can all enjoy the summer, but here is what remains:
- Thursday, July 6 will be a marathon day for the House and Senate.
- The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee approved the budget, and now the House and Senate have to vote on that budget. It includes major wins, like funding for positions in the Secretary of State Office.
- The Governor does her part: she has 10 days from when bills are enacted to sign or veto them, or they become law without her signature.
- "Veto Day" is on the horizon but hasn't been scheduled yet. On this day legislators can try to override any last-minute vetoes made by the Governor.
Signed into Law:
- LD 1336 — Municipal Referendum Spending: This bill would require disclosure of ballot question campaign expenditures over $5,000 in smaller municipalities, where no disclosure at all is currently required. We support this one.
- LD 1704 — Prison Gerrymandering Reform: This bill prevents prison gerrymandering, the practice of counting incarcerated individuals as part of the district where they're detained — and not by their home address. We support this one, too. This one still has another vote in both chambers.
Vetoed by the Governor:
- 🚨 LD 2004 — Restore Access to Federal Laws Beneficial to the Wabanaki Nations: This bill would allow Wabanaki peoples to benefit from federal legislation for tribes. We support this one. This bill received bipartisan support and was passed to be enacted in both the House and Senate, but the Governor vetoed the bill. The Legislature has the option to override the veto. Take action now — contact your legislators here and ask them to override the veto!
Heading Soon to the Governor's Desk:
This bill passed in the House and Senate and awaits the Governor's action. The Governor may choose to sign the bills into law, allow them to be enacted without her signature, or veto them.
- LD 1610 — Protect Maine's Elections: This bill will stop foreign government spending in Maine elections. We support this one. This one still has another vote in both chambers. Click here to urge your legislator to support this bill through final passage.
- LD 1690 — Ongoing Absentee Voting: This bill would establish ongoing absentee voting, where a voter can sign up to be automatically sent an absentee ballot for eligible elections, for all Mainers. We support this one. This one still has another vote in both chambers.
Placed on the special appropriations table:
These bills have been placed on the special appropriations table because they require funding. The bills have passed in the House and Senate, and enactment is pending. It's possible for bills to die on the table, but we remain hopeful that these bills might get their funding.
- LD 577 — Town Websites to Host More Election Info: This bill would provide state support through the office of the Secretary of State for towns to disseminate local election information online. We support this bill.
- LD 1155 — Increasing Legislative Salaries: This bill would increase the overall pay from ~$29,000 to $45,000 for a legislative session (which spans two years). We support this measure and believe this is one way to increase equity and equal representation in the Legislature and encourage more people to run for office.
Supreme Court Rejects Dangerous "independent state legislature theory"
Last week the Supreme Court rejected the "independent state legislature theory" in Moore v. Harper. We had huge concerns about this case, and it's a major win for our elections and voting rights.
In October 2022, the League of Women Voters of the United States and League chapters from all 50 states and D.C. — including Maine! — filed an amicus brief in the Moore v. Harper case. The case concerned the so-called “independent state legislature theory," which, if adopted, would have created terrible consequences for American democracy. It would have prioritized the ambitions of politicians and given them unchecked power over the American voter.
Supreme Court Also Guts Affirmative Action in College Admissions
League of Women Voters of the United States President Dr. Deborah Turner issued the following statement after the Supreme Court struck down race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, severely limiting how institutions of higher education can consider race in admissions decisions.
“For far too long, Black students and other students of color have been excluded and underrepresented within our higher education system. Today’s Supreme Court ruling reverses the decades-long precedent that upholds the constitutionality of higher education institutions considering the whole person, including race, in admission decisions. A student body that is reflective of our society — one that includes more representation of people of color within systems, structures, and institutions — benefits all students and society as a whole. Today’s devastating ruling will lead to less racially diverse student bodies, further disenfranchise people of color, and harm our democracy.”