June 24, 2018
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End in sight for school law repeal drive

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

STONINGTON, Maine — The year-long petition drive to repeal the state’s school consolidation law is nearing its end, and leaders of the effort are confident they have enough valid signatures to send the measure to the Legislature.

The Maine Coalition to Save Schools has approximately 58,000 signatures in hand, according to Lawrence “Skip” Greenlaw, chairman of the organization.

Another 5,000 signatures are being processed by town clerks in communities around the state. Paid petition circulators will continue to collect signatures through next week, Greenlaw said Monday.

“We’re projecting we’ll have more than 60,000 signatures when we’re done,” he said.

The group needed to collect 55,087 valid signatures in order to send the petition to the Legislature.

The petition asks the Legislature to repeal the state’s school administrative reorganization law, which was passed in June 2007.

Greenlaw said the coalition’s leaders have been very careful about correcting potential problems with the petitions, and said he was confident they had eliminated 99 percent of those issues.

He said he has instructed the paid collectors to complete their work by Sept. 15 to allow enough time for town clerks to verify the signatures by the end of the month. Greenlaw said the group plans to submit the petitions to the secretary of state Oct. 14, almost a year to the day that the petition drive began on Oct. 17, 2007.

Greenlaw said signatures that were signed more than one year ago would be invalid, so the group will formally submit the petitions before the anniversary.

With a busy election season coming, Greenlaw said the Secretary of State’s Office has indicated it likely will review the petitions until after January. The next session of the Legislature begins in January. If legislators fail to act on the petition, Greenlaw said, the question would go to the state’s voters.

The group, however, will not be idle during that time, he said.

Coalition members plan to survey legislative candidates asking them to commit to support repeal of the consolidation law and to commit to voting to override the gubernatorial veto that almost certainly would come after such a vote.

Greenlaw said the organization plans to publish the list of those legislators committed to repealing the law.

“Hopefully, we’ll get two-thirds to commit to overturn the law and override the veto,” he said. “Our effort is to get the law repealed.”

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