PORTLAND (WGME) With election say just around the corner, most of us have seen the dueling television ads over Question 1 -- The CMP Corridor referendum.
On the “Vote No on 1” side, the ads focus almost exclusively on one thing, and one word, “retroactivity.”
What does that mean? It comes down to the permits CMP received to build the corridor.
Opponents believe the legislature should have-- but didn't-- vote on them. In fact, they recently won a court case to that effect -- which is now being appealed..
But while that plays out-- corridor opponents have another line of attack-- the referendum.
That's where this wording comes in-- if people "Vote Yes"-- it will "retroactively" require projects like this using public lands to get a two-thirds vote in the legislature.
So CMP's permits would become invalid.
The ads argue that's bad, with the audio of the commercial saying, "Because Question One sets a terrible precedent-- letting politicians pass retroactive laws to shut down critical infrastructure projects that are already underway."
There are some things these ads don't tell you, for example, retroactive laws-- while unusual-- do happen in Maine and are legal. So, while the vote no side claims Question 1 sets a "terrible precedent," that's not true. It doesn't set a precedent because that power already exists.
The ads also talk about the law shutting down projects already underway-- and even shows an unknown bridge project in the video.
The “Vote Yes” side claims that's misleading because they claim the way the referendum is written it should only apply to this transmission line project.
But the "Vote No" side insists there are potentially other projects that could become collateral damage. So while the ads appear at least somewhat misleading on this point —showing bridges and talking about “precedent”-- the issue is disputed.
Another line from the "Vote No" commercial is essentially true:
The "Vote No" ad says: ‘Retroactivity’ would give politicians the power to apply new laws to things that happened legally in the past.
Voting "Yes" on Question 1 will -- in effect-- change the past for the CMP corridor.
Because, while the CMP project did appear to get the green light -- and construction is already underway-- voting yes would bring that to a halt.
Later this month, we will continue to track the truth behind the ads, focusing on ads from the “Vote Yes” side of Question 1.