AUGUSTA — Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, has introduced two bills to reform campaign finance laws and limit lobbyists’ influence on state politics. LD 54, An Act to Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions,” and LD 76, “An Act to Strengthen the Integrity of the Legislature by Expanding the Waiting Period before Legislators May Engage in Any Amount of Compensated Lobbying,” received public hearings before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
“The system we have isn’t working for the average Mainer, not to mention for the lobbyists,” said Sen. Chenette, who is chair of the Government Oversight Committee and co-chair of the Democracy Reform Caucus. “When I chat with lobbyists off the record, they all yearn for the day where everything is not predicated on the assumption of political contribution loyalty. They want reform just as much as the public.”
Current law prohibits the governor, members of the Legislature and constitutional officers from soliciting or accepting contributions from a lobbyist while the Legislature is in session. LD 54 would extend that prohibition year-round, regardless of whether the Legislature is in session.
“Today more than ever, many people in our state and country feel disillusioned by the political system. They believe the wealthiest among us have undue influence on the political process, leaving those with the least financial resources and influence behind,” said President Troy Jackson. “Sen. Chenette’s bill would be a solid step forward in regaining the public’s trusts in the political system.”
LD 76 prohibits former lawmakers from engaging in any compensated lobbying activities for four years after their term ends. The current law limits this to one year. The bill also removes the safe harbor in current law that allows a former legislator to engage in up to 8 hours of compensated lobbying per month.
LD 54 and LD 76 face votes in the Committee and further action before the full House and Senate.