Commentary

House Democrats Threatening to Take Over State Government

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Regardless of your party affiliation, what happened in the Maine House of Representatives this week should infuriate us all.

Maine law permits the Governor to submit bills anytime the Legislature is in session. This is exactly what happened on Tuesday, when the Governor submitted LD 1652, a bill that sought to deny state aid for school funding, General Assistance and municipal revenue sharing to any municipality that “formally or informally” resists the exchange of any individual’s immigration status.

Like every other piece of legislation that is properly before the House, the bill was set to be referenced to the appropriate committee of jurisdiction when House Democrat Leader Jeff McCabe jumped out of his seat and killed the bill on the spot using an obscure procedural maneuver that has only been used five times in the last six years. Now, the only person who can bring the bill back is Jeff McCabe who has determined on his own that this matter is now closed. But the assault on democracy doesn’t stop there. McCabe has threatened to pull the same stunt with all bills put forward by Governor LePage for the remainder of the session, saying he will only allow bills to be considered that he deems to be worthy.

Whether you like the bill the Governor put forward or not is irrelevant. House Democrats reverting to the nuclear option in order to kill any bill they don’t like shows a stunning lack of respect for the Office of the Governor and the procedures that are in place to protect the legislative process. They’re essentially putting their thumb on the minority party in the House telling us that we, and more importantly the people we represent, don’t matter.

There are thousands of bills that come through the Maine Legislature each year. No one legislator likes them all. But what makes Maine great is the fact that almost every bill proposed offers the public the opportunity to weigh in on the pros and cons of each proposal and the committee of jurisdiction gets the chance to properly vet the measure before subsequent votes can be taken. That way each member of the Legislature can speak on behalf of their constituents.

What Jeff McCabe and the House Democrats are saying is that they know better than you, the people of Maine. They will decide what is good public policy and what isn’t. They will be the ones to tell you what is “offensive” and what isn’t. Your opinion no longer matters to them.

I hate to break it to the House Democrats but that is not the way our state government is designed to work. This is a democracy not a dictatorship. Public hearings exist for a reason. They absolutely should not be circumvented by some procedural move made for purely political reasons.

Governor LePage represents 1.3 million people across Maine and those people just had their voices silenced by Jeff McCabe and the House Democrats who are now openly using their slim six seat majority in the House to dictate, not govern. It’s up to the Maine people to send them a message this November that we are all paying attention and this type of behavior is simply not acceptable here in Maine.

About Ellie Espling

Representative Ellie Espling is the Assistant House Republican Leader and represents House District 65, which includes Part of Poland in Androscoggin County, and all of New Gloucester in Cumberland County.

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