A legislators who supports Central Maine Power’s $1 billion hydropower corridor is suing Secretary of State Shenna Bellows in a bid to force her to split one anti-corridor referendum set for the state’s November ballot into three separate questions.

Rep. Chris Caiazzo, D-Scarborough, filed the lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court Thursday. As the referendum is currently written, it will ask voters if they would like to ban “high-impact” transmission lines in the upper Kennebec region and require the Legislature to approve similar projects on public lands with a two-thirds vote retroactively to 2014.

The legislators asks Bellows to reverse her decision on the question’s wording. It is the first legal challenge from CMP and its allies to the second referendum bid targeting the project after Maine’s high court struck down a question once slated for the 2020 ballot as unconstitutional.

This new complaint will be heard amid a similar climate of competing advertisements and a pending challenge in the Legislature to create a consumer-owned utility to buy out CMP and Versant Power, the state’s other dominant electric utility.

The complaint, filed by Pierce Atwood attorneys who have represented the CMP-funded political committee Clean Energy Matters in prior corridor lawsuits, said splitting the referendum into separate sections would allow voters to better understand the questions and allow them to weigh in on the different aspects.

It cites a state law requiring the secretary of state to split referendums into separate questions if different elements are present. Caiazzo voiced his concerns to Bellows in a May 13 prior to filing the suit, according to a letter included in the complaint’s exhibits.

Caiazzo suggested three questions be presented to voters: whether transmission lines or other infrastructure built on public land retroactive to 2014 require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, whether “high impact” transmission lines on public land require a similar vote and whether to ban transmission lines in the upper Kennebec region.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.