Initiative reform bill shot down by Maine committee

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February 25, 2010

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AUGUSTA, Maine: This week the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee killed a bill that called for new standards for the citizen initiative and people's veto process with a vote of 8 to 5. The bill, known as LD 1690, was sponsored by Rep. Seth Berry and required that the secretary of state make "electronic lists of certified signatures" from petitions. The proposed bill, Berry argued, would "strengthen the citizen initiative process by increasing transparency and accountability." Senate Chair Nancy Sullivan told Republicans that Democrats were open to looking at other options, including Sen. John Nutting's proposal LD 1730. Sen. Nutting's bill adds a fine for violating current state petition gathering laws. Additionally, Nutting's bill proposes prohibiting persons convicted of fraud from circulating petitions for up to 5 years. Both bills require that paid circulators and businesses that hire circulators register with the state. The day of the vote Republicans said they would be willing to work on measures to increase penalties for fraud but were hesitant to approve measures that would restrict the process.[1][2]

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