Judge declines to remove referendum from November ballot

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A Maine judge has declined to remove a referendum on a $1 billion hydropower transmission project from the November ballot, ruling that constitutional questions can be raised if the referendum is enacted.

Justice Thomas Warren said Monday that the lawsuit raises questions but wrote that the “substantive challenges" to the referendum's validity "may not be reviewed at this time.”

The lawsuit contends the Maine Constitution links referendums to legislative acts, not agency decisions.

It also contends the referendum violates the state constitution’s separation of powers. Maine's secretary of state agrees on the constitutional issue but proposed keeping the matter on the ballot.

The proposal was envisioned as giving Mainers the final say on the 145-mile New England Clean Energy Connect.