AUGUSTA — Maine lawmakers would no longer be allowed to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists under a bill unveiled Thursday by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.
Thursday marked the 7th anniversary of Citizens United, which opened the floodgates for private cash contributions into the political process. Sen. Chenette, who has run publicly financed campaigns in the House and Senate, unveiled his proposal during a press conference hosted by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections to highlight the need to get money out of politics.
“Lobbyists don’t give politicians money out of the charitable goodness of their hearts, or because they are friends. They do it because they believe it will buy them access and, perhaps, a vote,” Sen. Chenette said. “Whether these contributions cause lawmakers to vote in the lobbyists’ favor or not, their very existence creates a cloud of uncertainty around the legislative process. They create an appearance of corruption that undermines our democratic institutions regardless of whether any votes were really ‘bought.’”
Currently, lawmakers are allowed to accept political contributions from lobbyists before and after the legislative session. Sen. Chenette’s bill, “An Act To Limit the Influence of Lobbyists By Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions,” would expand the prohibition to last all year long.
“While ultimately overturning the Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United, is the long-term objective, we can make incremental reforms to our campaign finance system to weed out the perception of corruption and fundamentally restore a sense of trust and credibility back into the institution of government,” Sen. Chenette said.
Sen. Chenette’s bill would build on the success of his previous efforts to reform campaign finance, including a successful effort last year that created a new law to ban Clean Elections candidates from operating political action committees.
The marijuana legalization law approved by voters on Election Day included a nine-month window for lawmakers to create a regulatory system. However, a proposal to postpone implementation until February 2018 was tacked on to a bill designed to address errors and unintended consequences in the citizen-initiated legislation. Sen. Chenette said the Legislature should begin the process of creating the regulatory framework first, and seek an extension only if necessary.
AUGUSTA – Democratic Sen. Justin Chenette of Saco is pleased to share the details of Maine’s three-year transportation infrastructure work plan, and what it means for Senate District 31, which includes Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington, and part of Buxton. The plan is released annually with an outline of the Maine Department of Transportation’s strategy for road, bridge and other transportation projects throughout the state.
“Our area is poised to be the recipient of a number of important transportation related projects,” said Sen. Chenette. “The public must have access to safe roads, bridges, and railways not just for ourselves, but for the foundation of future economic growth."
According to the MDOT, the work plan includes more than $2.3 billion worth of construction and maintenance, of which $537 million is scheduled for 632 capital projects in 2017. Included are projects for highways and bridges, transit (bus), passenger and freight railroad, aviation, ferries, ports and other marine facilities, and bicycle-pedestrian access.
AUGUSTA — In an effort to bring the workings of the State House to constituents as the Legislature is in session in Augusta, Sen. Chenette is organizing monthly mobile office hours throughout the Senate district.
Each month a new location will be announced where residents can come and speak directly with Sen. Chenette about state issues, questions, or anything on their mind.
"Government accountability is important to me," said Sen. Chenette. "I work for the people and they deserve to have direct and frequent access to their elected officials."
Sen. Chenette’s first mobile office hour session will be held on Jan. 21 from 10-11 a.m. in the Study Room at Libby Memorial Library in Old Orchard Beach.
You do not need to RSVP and walk-ins are encouraged. Individuals that cannot make the mobile office hours can call Sen. Chenette's state senate office at 207-287-1515, email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message him at Facebook.com/JustinChenette.
For more information on Sen. Chenette's mobile office hours, you can visit his website at www.JustinChenette.com.
WHAT: In-District Constituent Office Hours
WHO: Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.
WHEN: 10-11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.
WHERE: Study Room, Libby Memorial Library, 27 Staples St., Old Orchard Beach.
AUGUSTA — With the new legislative session underway, Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, would like to remind local teachers, parents and students about the Senate Honorary Page program at the State House in Augusta.
The daylong program gives students a unique opportunity not only to observe the state's legislative process, but to be a part of it. All students from third grade through high school are encouraged to participate.
“The honorary page program is a wonderful way for students to get an up-close look at the legislative process.” said Sen. Chenette. “I would be happy to help schedule a time for students in our area to participate.”