Local reps split on change in term limits, financing races for governor

By Stephen Betts | May 08, 2017

Augusta — Local representatives were divided last week on two bills -- one that would change the term-limit law for legislators and also on a measure that would end public financing of gubernatorial campaigns.

Both bills were rejected by the Maine House.

On May 2, the House voted 82-63 against LD 300, which would have ended public financing for candidates for governor.

Legislative and gubernatorial candidates are eligible to receive money from the Clean Elections fund.

Democratic Reps. Pinny Beebe-Center of Rockland, Walter Kumiega III of Deer Isle, and John Spear of South Thomaston and independent Rep. Owen Casas of Rockport voted to kill the bill.

Republican Reps. Paula Sutton of Warren and Abden Simmons of Waldoboro voted in support of LD 300.

Spear said Maine voters have spoken out clearly in support of the Clean Election Act. He also said that the current law allows people to run who may not have personal wealth to spend on a campaign.

Sutton sponsored the bill.

"By the time one reaches the level of seeking the highest political position in the state, they should have the support to achieve it without burdening the taxpayers of Maine. We are a state of modest means and suffer from high taxes and energy costs. A person should not be forced to have their tax dollars spent to support candidates they never would. Our money needs to be prioritized and saved for those who need our help and not to buy bumper stickers and yard signs for wanna-be politicians," Sutton said.

The state Senate has yet to vote on the bill.

Local legislators were also split on LD 1007, which seeks to amend the Maine Constitution to change the terms of state senators to four years beginning in 2020 and four years for House members in 2022. Currently, terms are two years for all legislators.

In addition, the bill would amend the Constitution to limit legislators to two consecutive terms in both the House and Senate. Currently, state law limits legislators to four consecutive terms in either the House or Senate, although members can switch from one chamber to the other.

The bill was rejected 76-64 in the House May 4.

Voting to kill the measure were Beebe-Center, Spear and Kumiega.

Spear said he was not a fan of term limits, saying it gives more power to bureaucrats and lobbyists.

Supporting the bill were Casas, Sutton and Simmons.

Casas and Sutton both said the change would reduce the amount of time legislators spend seeking re-election.

Beebe-Center said it is already challenging to find candidates who want to serve and who try to juggle serving and earning a living and that four-year terms would be a deterrent.

The state Senate has yet to vote on the bill. For the state Constitution to be changed, two-thirds of both the House and Senate would need to approve the bill and then voters would have to affirm it in a statewide referendum.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.