Portland has used the system successfully. No other state conducts elections like this, although other localities do. There could be Maine constitutional issues with the initiative (the constitution allows for elections by plurality). Proponents emphasize that the system encourages candidates to appeal to voters beyond their core constituency, while opponents emphasize quirks in the system that could produce unusual results.
Proponents emphasize the need for working people to get a raise, opponents worry that rural economies and low-margin employers will not be able to sustain the additional costs of labor.
An Act To Require Background Checks for Gun Sales – Principally focused on gun show sales, the bill requires a background check before a firearm sale or transfer between individuals not licensed as firearm dealers. Several exceptions are offered, including transfers between family members, while the parties are hunting or sport shooting, and in cases of emergency self-defense.
Proponents characterize the bill as closing a loophole in the existing regulatory system, while opponents question the need for additional regulations.
An Act To Establish The Fund to Advance Public Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education – Imposes a 3% state income tax surcharge on earnings in excess of $200,000/year to raise an estimated $157 million dollars to be used to increase funding for state aid to local education, raising the state contribution to 55% as approved by Maine voters in 2003.
State government hasn’t ever contributed 55% to local K-12 school costs, although they’ve come close on occasion. The Maine Constitution requires that the state pay nothing – it’s all on municipalities – leaving Maine’s school funding policy in a mess. Speaking of messes, the state income tax has been inching lower over the past few years, but this bill would crank up state income taxes on small businesses, upper middle class couples and high earning individuals from 7.15% to 10.15%. Only California has a higher individual income tax rate for 2016. It might sound good to ‘tax the rich,’ but it won’t sound nearly as good if those people leave, or just don’t come here.
So that’s a start on getting ready to be a legislator this fall, but there’s much more to learn – including why you might not agree with everything I’ve said. But whether you do or not, on November 8 2016, in addition to helping elect the next President of the United States, you’ll be casting four votes in your capacity as a Maine lawmaker, and those votes will have substantial impact on our state’s future.
Learn as much as you can. And choose wisely.