AUGUSTA — Maine lawmakers have passed a bill calling for public hearings on citizen initiatives before they head to the ballot.

The Democratic-led Senate approved the bill 32-3 Tuesday. It now heads to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ desk.

Currently, a citizen initiative heads to the ballot if lawmakers decline to pass it themselves.

The bill would require that certified initiatives receive a public hearing in front of a legislative committee.

The amended bill says the Legislature can waive the requirement for a public hearing with a two-thirds vote of those present.

Maine already allows the Legislature to hold public hearings and work sessions on such initiatives.

But Republicans have raised concern about a lack of hearings for ballot questions in recent elections.

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