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Arbitration legislation may pass in Maine

May 7, 2009

Will Peirce is an AFFIL Member and citizen activist in Maine.  To submit updates from your neck of the woods to the AFFIL blog, contact Sarah Byrnes.

Legislators in Maine considered arbitration bills on Wednesday and the outcome looks favorable.   We were lucky that the Superintendent of Consumer Credit Protection, Will Lund, testified in favor of fair arbitration laws.  At the request of legislators, he will assemble a stakeholders meeting to craft legislation that meshes with existing Maine law.  Although it will be politically difficult to go against his non-partisan recommendations, we could end up with a party-line vote out of committee.  But we stand a fair chance of winning, anyway.

Maine’s term limit law and clean election financing have had an interesting effect on the political process.  With less experienced legislators in office (they can only serve 8 years and the pay is not good), government officials have gained influence because they know the process better than anybody.  They are also protected.  Before any single politician can figure out what the government agencies are doing, they are out of office.  Seasoned lobbyists are also very knowledgeable about the process, but the politicians often ignore their dazzling and confusing arguments.  It’s because most of the politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, are ‘clean election’ candidates and not beholden to big campaign contributors.

As one of the citizen activists who initiated the arbitration legislation, I know that we stood little chance of having the issue seriously considered without model legislation from Public Citizen and NCLC.  The Superintendent now appears likely incorporate basic concepts from both bills into Maine law.

(Photo:  icemono)

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