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Bill Would Bar Hydro-Quebec From Influencing Transmission Line Referendum

The Daniel-Johnson Dam in Quebec, Canada.

A bill designed to prevent the Canadian energy company Hydro-Quebec from spending on a campaign to rescue a controversial transmission line will be reviewed by the Maine Legislature.

The proposal by independent state Rep. Kent Ackley, of Monmouth, is aimed at preventing foreign influence in Maine ballot campaigns.

It was prompted by a report by Maine Public Radio revealing that state and federal law prohibits foreign governments from contributing to candidates, but not to referendum campaigns.

Last year, Hydro-Quebec formed a ballot committee in anticipation of a referendum on the project known as the New England Clean Energy Connect.

The Quebec government is the sole shareholder of the company, which would supply the power for the project.

Ackley’s bill was submitted after the deadline to review bills this session, but was approved by a 7-3 vote by the Legislative Council.

It will be drafted before being assigned to a committee for review.

Originally published Feb. 4, 2020 at 4:19 p.m. ET.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.