The House of Representatives on Monday defeated a bill that would have made it more difficult for Mainers to create new laws through ballot initiative. The House voted 92-54 to approve the bill, but the margin was short of the two-thirds support required to advance it to the Senate. The proposal would have asked voters if they want to amend the Maine Constitution to require sponsors of ballot campaigns to obtain a percentage of voter signatures from each of Maine’s two congressional districts. The vote on Monday marked the end of a bill that had orginally garnered bipartisan support. The bill received two-thirds support in initial votes in the House and Senate, a margin that would have sent the bill to voters for final ratification.
Maine voters are the final arbiters of all changes to the Constitution, but amendments first require support of two-thirds of the House and the Senate. The bill was approved 10-3 by the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.
The proposal has steadily gained opposition since the initial votes. Opponents worried that the proposal, L.D. 742, would dramatically change the state’s referendum process. Lawmakers argued that the bill was an overreaction to last year’s bear-baiting referendum, a ballot question that has since inspired several changes to the referendum process.