Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 4:06:34 pm
By Josh Silver | Special to The Washington Post
November 9, 2017
Less than a day after voters in Maine voted to expand Medicaid in their state, Republican Gov. Paul LePage moved quickly to subvert their democratic will, announcing Wednesday that he will not implement the expansion until it is “fully funded by the Legislature.”
This is not the first time that elected officials in the state have blatantly ignored voters in this way. Last year, Mainers approved an innovative reform known as “ranked-choice voting,” as an effort to ensure that their governor wins with a majority of the vote. But the state legislature did not agree with that decision, so it recently voted to delay and potentially repeal the initiative. In fact, it brazenly meddled with every single ballot measure passed by the state’s voters in 2016.
The news out of Maine is part of an ominous pattern: State legislators across the country resisting the will of the people by gutting or even repealing citizen initiatives. This is a shockingly undemocratic trend at a time when U.S. voters are already deeply unsatisfied with their elected leaders.
The citizen initiative — in which a group of voters brings a proposed law or constitutional amendment to the ballot for the public to approve or reject — exists in 26 states and the District of Columbia. It has long been a critical tool for advancing key issues that are popular with the public but unlikely to make it through legislatures or city councils.