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Politics

In Potential Blow To Hydro-Quebec, Maine Lawmakers Advance Bill Limiting Foreign Influence On Ballot Measures

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Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press

Maine lawmakers have taken a step toward barring companies controlled by foreign governments from spending money to influence ballot measures.

The 10-2 vote by the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee could signal a big blow to Hydro-Quebec, the Canadian energy company that has spent lavishly trying to convince Maine voters to approve a controversial transmission project by Central Maine Power.

The amended bill would bar any company with greater than 10 percent ownership by a foreign government from electioneering or contributing to another domestic political group.

Hydro-Quebec is wholly owned by the provincial government of Quebec.

If passed by the full Legislature, the measure would close a loophole in state law that has allowed the company to spend more than $10 million on advertising so far.

Maine Public Radio first reported the loophole in 2019.

The committee tabled a bill that could include prohibitions on corporations with foreign investors.