Word was handed down by the Secretary of State's office yesterday that four citizen-initiated referenda were approved for the November ballot, including a referendum on providing medical marijuana, a proposed veto of the school consolidation bill passed last session, and two tax measures written and supported by the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Maine Leads, a pair of conservative interest groups.
These two groups had also submitted a petition for a third referendum which would have deregulated Maine's health insurance industry, but every single signature was rejected due to a mistake in the signature gathering process. Apparently, the pages on which the legislation was printed were presented out of order, making it difficult for signatories to judge the full intent of the referendum.
Even if the petitions had been printed correctly, other signature collection and administration mistakes would have invalidated 9,509 signatures, according to the Secretary of State's decision, dropping the number below the 55,087 needed to secure a spot on the ballot.
All of these measures will make for an interesting election in November, but the campaign for the new TABOR referendum may be the one to watch. Will Mainers resent the fact that these groups are trying to push a piece of legislation that's already been rejected once, or will they feel that the state fiscal and political situation has changed enough (or has failed to change) so that this kind of blunt tax reform is advisable? We'll start to find out soon.