AUGUSTA (AP) – In what amounts to a mini-lottery prescribed by state law, Maine’s chief election official on Thursday determined the order of bond questions to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, and by chance they will appear in order of magnitude.

The ballot will also include an initiated question on whether an Indian tribe can run a harness racing track with slot machines and high-stakes beano games in Washington County. In addition, voters will decide whether to lengthen legislative term limits, from four two-year terms to six.

The fall 2007 ballot features no elections for major offices, but voters will fill open seats in at least two of Maine’s legislative districts. In District 93, Rep. Randy Hotham of Dixfield resigned July 30. Rep. Earl Richardson, District 27, of Greenville, died Thursday.

The loss of two Republican House members leaves the Democrats with an 89-58 edge over the GOP in that chamber, where two independents also serve.

The state Constitution outlines the order of the types of questions on the ballot, so the Down East racino proposal will appear as Question 1, followed by the three bond questions, and finally the term limits proposal that was sent to voters by legislative action earlier this year.

So in practical terms, Thursday’s drawing of paper slips from a cardboard box held by Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap only affected the order of the three bond questions, which total $134 million.

The first bond issue question to appear seeks $55 million for research and economic development. The bulk of that – $50 million – would be awarded through a competitive process administered by the Maine Technology Institute

The second bond question seeks $43.5 million for improvements and additions at all campuses of the Maine Community College System, Maine Maritime Academy and the University of Maine System. Funds would also replenish the state’s school renovation loan fund.

The last bond issue seeks $35.5 million in borrowing to replenish Land for Maine’s Future program that sets aside open space for public use. Portions of the bond money would be directed to state parks and historic sites, and for riverfront projects.

The bond proposals on the November ballot are part of a borrowing package totaling $295 million that the Legislature has decided to send to voters in three parts.

In June, voters approved the first portion, which authorizes just under $113 million for transportation projects and $18.3 million for clean water programs.

In June 2008, voters will decide on a package worth nearly $30 million, mostly for transportation projects and some for environmental projects.

AP-ES-08-09-07 1544EDT


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