AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that would ask voters to amend the Maine Constitution to extend the length of legislators’ terms from two years to four years moves to the Senate after winning initial passage Monday in the House.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Schneck, a first-term Bangor Democrat, touted the measure, LD 489, as a way to allow lawmakers to concentrate more time “working hard for the people of Maine” instead of campaigning. A second benefit of the bill is that it would reduce Maine Clean Election Act expenditures, he said during a floor speech Monday.
After amending the bill to limit legislators to two consecutive four-year terms in the House and Senate — maintaining the maximum of eight straight years in the same office established by the 1993 term limits referendum — the State and Local Government Committee sent the bill to the full Legislature with a recommendation that it pass.
However, Rep. Anne Graham, D-North Yarmouth, the House chairwoman of the committee, introduced the minority “ought not to pass” recommendation for House consideration Monday. She said electing legislators every two years fosters greater accountability.
The House voted 79-60 against accepting the recommendation to reject the bill, then sent the measure to the Senate. If the bill survives further votes in the House and Senate, then wins voters’ approval, the changes would take effect in 2016.
Since 1990, at least 15 constitutional amendment proposals to create four-year legislative terms have failed in the Legislature.