Voters in Maine won’t decide any citizen-initiated statutes in 2019, making this year the first since 2013 to not feature initiated statutes. The deadline to file the 63,067 required signatures for citizen-initiated statutes was January 24, 2019. According to the secretary of state’s office, no signatures were filed for ballot initiatives.
There were three ballot initiatives that signatures could have been filed for—the Physician-Assisted Death Initiative, the Paid Sick Leave Initiative, and the Criminalization of Female Genital Mutilation Initiative. Each of these ballot initiatives is still eligible to appear on the ballot for November 3, 2020.
Maine Death with Dignity, which is leading the campaign in support of the Physician-Assisted Death Initiative, decided to aim to get its initiative placed on the ballot for the presidential election on November 3, 2020, instead of 2019. Backers of the Paid Sick Leave Initiative are also considering the 2020 ballot. Both of the campaigns have begun collecting signatures.
Between 1995 and 2017, an average of one citizen-initiated statute appeared on the ballot in odd-numbered years. Citizens could still propose a veto referendum, known as a people’s veto in Maine, against legislation passed in 2019, which could end up on the ballot in 2019 or 2020, depending on when signatures are submitted. Proponents of veto referendums are allowed to gather signatures for 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session at which the targeted law was passed.
The lack of citizen-initiated statutes on the ballot in 2019 doesn’t mean Maine voters won’t have ballot measures to consider. There hasn’t been a single year in Maine without at least one ballot measure since 1956. The Maine State Legislature can refer statewide ballot measures, in the form of constitutional amendments and state statutes, to the ballot. In Maine, the most common type of referred statute is the bond issue. Between 1995 and 2017, an average of three to four bond issues appeared on the ballot in Maine in odd-numbered years.