TOPSHAM, Maine — It's summer, and there are no major candidate elections this year, but that doesn’t mean Maine politics are quiet.
In fact, opponents of twelve laws passed this year by the Legislature have people’s veto petition drives going, hoping to force statewide votes on those issues.
Members of Mainers for Vaccine Choice are trying to overturn the law that eliminated exemptions to vaccine requirements for children.That group is currently circulating petitions in a number of communities.
Meanwhile, at the Topsham Fair, Sagadahoc County Republicans are collecting signatures this week on eight of the petitions, including one to reject the law about non-doctors performing abortions, and another to reject the so-called Green New Deal law about solar energy.
Guy Lebida, a Republican from Bowdoin, is leading the signature drive on two of the bills, and says people feel the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed went too far.
“It's everybody. On some of these vetoes it doesn’t matter which party they’re in cause they’re taking away our religious freedom, our liberty and taxation without representation whether its higher electric rates we the people didn’t vote in,” Lebida said.
But some of the issues also attracted Republican votes.
Maine’s Democratic Speaker of the House, Sara Gideon, says bills were passed that Mainers wanted.
“I believe in giving people a voice outside of just electing their representatives and I respect it very much,” says Gideon. “I also feel strongly the laws we passed were for the benefit of Maine people”
Gideon says she believes most of the new laws will survive the petition effort and take effect on schedule. Lebida says he thinks at least three petitions— vaccine choice, taxpayer funded abortions and the Death With Dignity Law— will get the needed signatures to force statewide votes next year.
The petitioners face a challenge. They need more than 63,000 valid signatures on each petition by September 18.