2017-01-27 - Legislative
This has been a most busy week at the State House, even though one day was taken out with a storm day. Of course you can get a glimpse of the week by looking at the calendar - and the calendar itself may not be an indication of just how busy the week turned out to be.
Please see this link for the legislative calendar of the week. As you can see, it’s getting busier.
And please see this calendar for
the list of events and scheduled events for next week. I do update this
calendar all the time, so expect a few changes looking forward.
Committee Work this Week
We spent a great deal of time in briefings - informational sessions about various agencies and departments which impact education. They are always informative and interesting.
We also had the first sets of public hearings. Most notable among those public hearings was the legislation around Next Generation Science Standards - LD49. The process of testimony is interesting. The committee chairs, Senator Langley and Representative Cornfield, do such a great job in managing the testimony and trying to give everyone a chance to testify.
Perhaps most interesting was the
range of testimony - some testimony was much in favor of the Next
Generation Science Standards and of course some testimony was
opposed. There didn’t seem to me to be a common ground - people
were either for the adoption with passion or against the adoption with
passion. Feel free to send me a note on your thoughts.
Bills This Week
Link to Directory of Bills
Links to Bill Status
There is no doubt that the stand out legislative bills of the week concerned the implementation of the marijuana referendum. The original bill presented made a legitimate attempt to create rule making and close loopholes in the original referendum. It seemed to be a balanced and rational approach in an attempt to wrestle with potentially confusing referendum language.
By Thursday, however, we learned that the Governor had refused to sign the legislation as it stood and wanted revisions, although the opportunity to make changes had been present at the legislation’s inception.
For a newspaper account, read this from the Bangor Daily News
The long and short of all the discussions is that the contents of the referendum and all the loopholes are set to go into effect on Monday, as the Governor has refused to sign the legislation or the working compromises proposed.
Please see this statement released last evening by the Office of the Speaker of the House.
AUGUSTA - Today,(Thursday), Maine lawmakers voted to advance an emergency bill closing loopholes in the citizen-passed marijuana referendum, including preventing legal use by Mainers under the age of 21. Despite overwhelming unanimous support, the bill remains on Governor LePage’s desk, awaiting either signature or veto.
“This is creating confusion and chaos for no reason. Starting Monday, this referendum becomes law. We came here, we did our work and we protected the safety of our kids. The governor should do his part now and act as quickly as possible so we can move forward,” said Speaker of the House Sara Gideon.
Without passage of LD 88, Mainers under the age of 21 could legally start using recreational marijuana as early as Monday.
“We’ll have plenty of time to responsibly implement the other aspects of this referendum, but the longer the governor blocks these emergency fixes, the greater the risk this referendum poses to public safety.” said Erin Herbig, House majority leader.
LD 88, sponsored by Representative Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, passed unanimously in the Maine House of Representatives and Senate. LD 88 tightens restrictions against recreational use of marijuana by Mainers under the age of 21, clarifies the definition of marijuana and concentrates and private property usage, and extends the current nine-month delay of retail sales to allow for legislative approval of rulemaking from January to February 1, 2018.”
The confusion around LD88 - the act to close the loop holes in the marijuana referendum - is disconcerting. I have to wonder if the the executive branch is really interested in child welfare or in scoring political points. While I don’t want to think it will be a serious problem, marijuana does become legal on Monday. Ironically, the Governor has spoken in opposition to the intentions of the referendum, yet in some ways has enabled wholesale consumption of marijuana by minors. In many ways, I think that modern teenagers have just "gone by" the pot thing - I'm not sure they are all that interested, but then again, why place a stumbling block before those who may stumble?
Second, I must reflect on what I see emerging as a new kind of political party. We have had our “tea party” in the past. Today, it seems we are facing a party that I might desicribe as False Information and No Compromise - (FINC) The expectation seems to be that in a post-truth world any kind of assertion carries the day, becomes a truth, and from that stated assertion there can be no retreat, no compromise. As citizens we are expected to wink at FINC - as the members of this party create one unbelievable set of circumstances after another none of which has any grounding in rational truth.
This seems substantiated on the national level as well through an interesting article I discovered while browsing the Internet
As always, I'm interested in your comments and suggestions, and please forgive any unintentional typos or errors.