AUGUSTA — A bill by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, would establish a procedure for recalling elected officials from public office in Maine.
The bill — LD 1125, “An Act to Establish a Recall Procedure for Elected Officials” — received a public hearing before the Veterans and Legal Affairs on Monday.
Current Maine law does not provide for the option of recalling elected officials. Sen. Chenette’s bill establishes such a procedure for elected officials at all levels of government, from the select board to the governor.
“This bill provides an extra level of governmental accountability — a pathway for citizens to retain control over elected officials who are not representing the best interests of their constituents,” said Sen. Chenette. “This is about holding all of us accountable, whether we are serving in municipal government or in Augusta.”
The bill requires that a petition for recall be signed by at least 15 percent of the number of votes cast for that office in the previous election and proportionally based on party affiliation. Petitions would be turned in and reviewed by the Secretary of State. Grounds for a recall must be verified by the Maine Ethics Commission. The grounds for recalling a local or state official would be: neglect of duty, misuse of office or incompetence in the performance of duties, conviction of a drug related crime, criminal conduct, corruption, misappropriation of public funds, obstruction of voter-approved initiatives, or violations of ethics laws. Recall petitions would not be allowed during the first or last six months of the elected official’s time in office.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), there are 19 states that have recall procedures in place for state officials. Additionally, at least 29 states have recall provisions for local elected officials.
LD 1125 faces further action in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and votes in the House and Senate.