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Maine's highest court sets deadline for briefs on ballot initiatives

In this Thursday, April 12, 2018, photo, Justice Andrew M. Mead, third from right, asks a question during a hearing in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on whether ranked-choice voting can be used in Maine's June 12th primary, in Portland, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
In this Thursday, April 12, 2018, photo, Justice Andrew M. Mead, third from right, asks a question during a hearing in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on whether ranked-choice voting can be used in Maine's June 12th primary, in Portland, Maine.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has set a deadline of May 26 to receive briefs about whether the Legislature can still act on four ballot initiatives.

The Legislature on Tuesday asked the court to determine if lawmakers forfeited their chance to vote on the ballot initiatives in late March when Democrats used their majorities to enact a two-year budget and adjourned the session.

The maneuver was designed to ensure that the budget is in place by July 1, but it also prompted the secretary of state to issue proclamation orders to Gov. Janet Mills that effectively put the referendums on the November ballot.

Lawmakers, who are currently in a special session, are contesting that decision and asking the law court to settle the matter.

The outcome is likely to affect only one ballot initiative that would bar entities owned by foreign governments from electioneering in ballot campaigns.

The other three, including a takeover of the state's two largest electricity providers, are expected to go to voters regardless of the court's opinion.