12/20/17, Maine First Media Staff Report,
Maine’s 2018 legislative session is set to begin January 3rd. It is scheduled — as is every even year session — to be for emergency legislation and proposals from the Governor.
In odd years, legislators can act on any bills they like.
The Maine Constitution mandated that variance as a way of establishing a balance of powers.
According to Article IV, Part Third, Section 1 of the Maine Constitution:
“…The business of the second regular session of the Legislature shall be limited to budgetary matters; legislation in the Governor’s call; legislation of an emergency nature admitted by the Legislature.”
And “emergency” is defined as:
“…Only such measures as are immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety.”
However, this coming session will see four proposals that are far from emergencies and that fly in the face of the Maine Constitution.
They are all proposals from one of the most far-Left members of the Maine House, Rep. Erin Herbig (D-Belfast). And they all received the support of a Republican vote on the Legislative Council.
Two of those votes came from GOP Gubernatorial hopefuls, Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R-Winterport), and Senate Majority Leader, Garrett “Maine-Last” Mason (R-Lisbon Falls).
The four bills all have friendly-sounding names:
- LR 2525, An Act To Allow Veterans Free Admission to the Maine State Museum
- LR 2596, An Act To Empower Maine’s Rural Economy and Workforce
- LR 2597, An Act To Promote Innovation and Growth in Maine’s Traditional Industries
- LR 2598, An Act To Expand Job Opportunities for People Working in Maine
However, it is impossible to find out what is in the bills, or what they would ACTUALLY do.
According to the Maine Revisor of Statutes Office, the only thing publicly available for any of the bills is a very brief, one-sentence summary. Those summaries do little more than repeat the flowery bill titles.
Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) doesn’t trust the names of these bills.
“Rep. Herbig has one of the worst voting records in the House on small-business issues. For seven years, she has been a sock puppet for the union bosses,” Rep. Lockman said. “You’re talking about a former ‘community organizer’ for Maine Change That Works, a group that fought for things like the ObamaCare train wreck. I have zero faith these bills will do anything good for the rural economy, Maine’s traditional industries or working Mainers.”
Rep. Herbig is widely suspected to be running for Sen. Thibodeau’s Waldo County seat; as Sen. Thibodeau is termed out and has announced his intentions in the race for the Blaine House. While Herbig has yet to confirm those rumors, Rep. Lockman sees these bills as little more than an attempt to look good before a big election.
“What Thibodeau and Mason did was give Herbig a gift just in time for her Senate run. They gift-wrapped it and set it under her tree, with a big, shiny, red bow reading, ‘bi-partisan moderate, working for Mainers’…when that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Rep. Herbig couldn’t get these non-emergency bills into the emergency session without at least one Republican vote on the Legislative Council for each. Enter Senators Thibodeau, Mason and Andre Cushing (R-Newport).
Sen. Thibodeau voted for the bill that purports to allow free admission for vets into the Maine State Museum. Sen. “Maine-Last” Mason voted for the bill supposedly about promoting the growth of Maine’s traditional industries. And Sen. Cushing voted for the bills allegedly about empowering Maine’s rural economy and expanding job opportunities.
However, not one of these three RINOs — two of whom want to be your next Governor — thought to get something in return for their vote.
“Look, I refuse to participate, but I understand how the game is played in the Statehouse swamp,” Rep. Lockman said. “There’s a lot of horse trading that goes on in Augusta. ‘I’ll vote for this if you vote for that’ tradeoffs. The fact that Thibodeau and Mason didn’t at least get Herbig or another Democrat on the Legislative Council to vote for Rep. O’Connor’s proposal to reform the ballot initiative process, something that might be considered an actual emergency, well it says a lot about their negotiating prowess. Perhaps the toga-clad Senate RINOs should read The Art of the Deal.”
Rep. Beth O’Connor is proposing changes to Maine’s ballot initiative process. With the influx of ballot measures in recent years, many involving important policy changes (legalizing marijuana, expanding Medicaid to the young and healthy, etc.), many conservative legislators are making the argument that proposed reforms COULD be considered an emergency.
But the four Herbig bills don’t live up to the standard of “preserving public peace, health or safety.”
And it’s that violation of Maine’s Constitution, James LaBrecque, Technical Advisor on Energy for Gov. Paul LePage, finds so concerning.
LaBrecque — who is fighting these so-called “emergency” bills as a matter of personal interest and NOT in his role as an advisor to Gov. LePage — says these four harmless-sounding bills will cement a dangerous precedent in Maine.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” LaBrecque said. “How much good does a bill have to produce in order to outweigh the superiority of the Maine Constitution, especially in light of the unrestricted allowances the constitution provides legislators to put forth unlimited bills in the first session?
LaBrecque says any politician willing to violate his/her oath of office and undermine the Maine Constitution should be publicly exposed. And so too should any politician who sits silently and allows it to happen.
“When legislators believe they are above their oath of office, the constitution and the law, and feel protected by the old boy network; there is no limit to what they believe the benefit of unchecked powers will bring them,” LaBrecque said.
These “emergency” bills present a number of problems for Mainers.
First, there is no language to the bills, so we don’t know if the legislation will actually deliver on the title — and given the track record of the sponsor, we tend to assume they won’t.
Second, Gubernatorial Candidates Sen. Michael Thibodeau and Sen. Garrett “Maine-Last” Mason received NOTHING in return for their bad votes.
And finally, the ‘good old boy’ network allowing the bills into the second session is yet another example of the need to drain the swamp of Augusta!
Maine First Media reached out to Sen. Thibodeau, Sen. Mason and Rep. Herbig for comment on this story, but have not received any responses as of the time of this posting.
Rep. Lockman contacted each of those three, plus Sen. Cushing; asking them to reconsider their support of these non-emergency bills.
Sen. Cushing replied saying he could not reconsider because he’s no longer on the Legislative Council. Rep. Lockman never heard back from Sen. Thibodeau, Sen. Mason or Rep. Herbig.
LaBrecque says he will continue to fight these “emergency” bills publicly and all the way to the Maine Supreme Court if need be.