AUGUSTA- LD’s 1417 through 19 were proposed by the governor and sponsored by Representative Joel Stetkis. They aim to give Maine voters a choice in how they want positions such as State Treasurer and Attorney General to be filled. One of the bills also aims to remove the current position of Secretary of State and replace it with a Lieutenant Governor.
“What I witnessed here on the floor as a new legislator was seeing these positions filled basically by political parties and political party votes. I feel it’s important to at least allow the citizens of Maine to choose the process on how these very important positions are filled,” said Representative Joel Stetkis.
As it stands currently, the State Treasurer and Attorney General are appointed by the Maine Legislature, but under these proposed bills, Maine citizens will have the choice to change the constitution so that these positions are appointed by the governor.
“One thing is this past election, there was a virtually unprecedented amount of new legislators elected. I think that spoke loudly of the Maine people not wanting the same old status quo. They want new people, new faces, new ideas, so I think this might be a good opportunity for that to happen,” said Stetkis.
While the governor and Representative Stetkis think it’s important to give Maine residents a say in whether or not they like the current system, people from the democratic side believe that there haven’t been any issues and find it unnecessary to fix whats not broken.
“Changes like this are proposed periodically. One of the reasons why they don’t usually go very far is because it’s very difficult to answer the operative question, ‘What problem are you solving? What problem exists right now that requires some type of vertical change?’” said Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State.
Dunlap says replacing his position with a Lieutenant Governor would only create more issues. He feels eliminating the Secretary of State would leave several loose ends.
“Legislators get constituent calls, I make sure I’m in the hallway every day to help them with their work. Now, if I don’t exist, they’re not going to get that service. And if I’m appointed by the governor, they would have to go through additional layers. They have very good constituent layers in the governors office, don’t get me wrong, but it would not be as direct,” said Dunlap.
Dunlap says these bills were created to allow the governor more control. The committee also raised several questions and concerns about the bills. It will now go on to a work session in the coming weeks.