H.P. 621 - L.D. 870
An Act To Increase Access to Information Regarding Referendum Questions
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 1 MRSA §353, as amended by PL 1991, c. 837, Pt. A, §1, is further amended to read:
§353. Explanation of proposed amendments and statewide referenda
With the assistance of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General shall prepare a brief explanatory statement
whichthat must fairly describe the intent and content ofand what a "yes" vote favors and a "no" vote opposes for each constitutional resolution or statewide referendum that may be presented to the people and whichthat must include any information prepared by the Treasurer of State under Title 5, section 152. The explanatory statement may not include comments of proponents or opponents as provided by section 354. In addition to the explanatory statement, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General shall prepare an explanation of what a yes vote favors and a no vote opposesbeginning with the November 2006 election the Office of Fiscal and Program Review shall prepare an estimate of the fiscal impact of each constitutional resolution or statewide referendum on state revenues, appropriations and allocations within 30 days after the adjournment of the legislative session immediately prior to the statewide election when the constitutional resolution or referendum will appear on the ballot. The fiscal impact estimate must summarize the aggregate impact that the constitutional resolution or referendum will have on the General Fund, the Highway Fund, Other Special Revenue Funds and the amounts distributed by the states to local units of government. The Secretary of State shall publish thisthe explanatory statement and the fiscal estimate in each daily newspaper of the State, not more than 10 and not less than 7 days prior to the voting. The explanatory statementThis information may be published in the English language in a foreign language newspaper.
Sec. 2. 1 MRSA §354 is enacted to read:
§354. Public comment on proposed amendments and statewide referenda; rules; fees
The Secretary of State shall adopt rules regarding the publication of public comment by proponents and opponents of constitutional resolutions or statewide referenda. These rules must include, but are not limited to, a word limit, the labeling of public comment as supporting or opposing a measure and the identification of the person or persons responsible for the comment. Rules adopted pursuant to this section are major substantive rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A. Beginning with the November 2006 election and every election thereafter, the Secretary of State shall publish the public comment, along with the explanatory statement and fiscal estimate required under section 353, on a publicly accessible site on the Internet and in pamphlets distributed to the municipalities of the State. A person filing a public comment for publication shall pay a fee of $500 to the Secretary of State. Fees collected pursuant to this section must be deposited in the Public Comment Publication Fund established under Title 5, section 90-D.
Sec. 3. 5 MRSA §90-D is enacted to read:
§90-D. Public Comment Publication Fund
The Public Comment Publication Fund, referred to in this section as "the fund," is established as a nonlapsing fund within the Department of the Secretary of State. The fund consists of fees for public comment on constitutional resolutions and statewide referenda received by the Secretary of State pursuant to Title 1, section 354. The money in the fund must be used for the purpose of publishing the informational pamphlet that includes the public comment, explanatory statement and fiscal estimate pursuant to Title 1, section 354. The unobligated and unencumbered balance of the fund in excess of $5,000 as of December 1st of each year must be transferred to the General Fund.
Sec. 4. Appropriations and allocations. The following appropriations and allocations are made.
SECRETARY OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF THE
Bureau of Administrative Services
and Corporations 0692
Initiative: Provides initial allocations for the Public Comment Publication Fund.
OTHER SPECIAL REVENUE
FUNDS 2005-06 2006-07
All Other $500 $500
OTHER SPECIAL REVENUE
FUNDS TOTAL $500 $500
Effective September 17, 2005.
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