Monday, May 13, 2013

Maine Presidential Primary Bill Gets 'Ought not pass' from Committee

The Maine bill to reestablish a presidential primary in the Pine Tree state got a vote of no confidence from the Joint Committee on Legal and Veterans Affairs on Monday.

The committee today after hearing testimony from interested and potentially affected parties last week briefly discussed the measure (LD 1422) among themselves in a working session. As it turns out, it was not the presidential primary provision that derailed the legislation. Instead, the committee was given pause by the constitutionality of a provision in the bill calling for instant runoff voting in primaries (not presidential); something that had already been dismissed in separate legislation this session.

The committee was reminded that the previous legislature had taken up similar measures dealing with the possibility of a presidential primary last session only to have that subsequently studied and rejected. On the current committee there was some support voiced for having a discussion about a presidential primary -- especially a discussion outside of the context of a presidential election year (the context of the 2012 study) -- but there was widespread agreement among the membership that this "was not the vehicle (the bill) for it".

The committee then unanimously agreed to deem the bill "ought not pass", endangering the prospects for a Maine presidential primary for the time being. To reiterate a point made here several times since the beginning of 2013, the years immediately following a presidential election are not successful times for presidential primary legislation to make its way through state legislatures. Bills are introduced and debated in those years, but not often passed. Maine is seemingly set to follow that pattern.

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