AUGUSTA — A citizens initiative asking voters whether to approve a third Maine casino in York County will be the first referendum question on the ballot in November.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced the order of the four ballot questions Wednesday after a random drawing.

Voters will also be asked whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program, MaineCare, which will appear as Question 2, a news release from Dunlap’s office said.

Voters will also be asked whether to authorize $105 million in bridge and highway bonds and whether to amend the state constitution to reduce volatility in state pension funding. According to the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, the change is needed to lower the state’s annual retirement costs.

The campaign behind Question 1 is under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission, to determine who is financing the campaign and who paid for the $4.3 million signature-gathering operation that qualified the question for the ballot. As written, the ballot question would allow only Shawn Scott or a company he runs to hold the casino license.

Scott is an international gambling entrepreneur who won voter approval to add slot machines to Bangor’s struggling horse racing track in 2003, creating Maine’s first casino. Scott then sold those rights to Penn National – which still operates what is now Bangor’s successful Hollywood Casino – for $51 million as regulators scrutinized his businesses and associates.

A license for a casino in York County is estimated to be worth as much as $150 million.

The measure to expand Medicaid in Maine is also controversial. Republican Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed five bills that would have expanded the health insurance program for low-income Mainers under the Affordable Care Act.

If approved, individuals under age 65 with income equal to or less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible. For a family of four, that would mean an income of $32,252 or less.

The overall status of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, remains in doubt. And while President Trump and Republicans in Congress have so far been unsuccessful in their efforts to “repeal and replace” the federal law, which provides up to 90 percent in federal matching funds to states that expand their health care coverage for low-income residents, the issue remains a top concern in Congress.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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