It’s crunch time at the State House.
After months of dawdling, the dam is about to break. Bills that have been stuck in the legislative pipeline are flooding into the House chamber for debate. We are moving from morning sessions three days a week, to morning and afternoon sessions five days a week, and possible triple sessions next week. Statutory adjournment is April 20th.
House majority Democrat leadership controls the flow of legislation, and no serious observer believes that the dam break is anything but intentional, designed to short-circuit debate on pending legislation. And in at least one instance, Democrat leaders employed a seldom-used parliamentary “nuclear option” to deny Maine people public hearings on a bill that the Democrats would prefer to bury before the public gets wind of what they’re up to.
LD 1652, “An Act Regarding Municipal Immigration Policies,” would deny state aid to any municipality that prohibits local law enforcement officers from gathering information regarding the immigration status of any individual. The bill was submitted by Gov. LePage, and I am the sponsor.
Portland enacted a city ordinance in 2003 that explicitly prohibits police officers from inquiring into the immigration status of any person, or engaging in activities for the purpose of ascertaining the immigration status of any person. As reported in the Portland Press Herald on June 3, 2003, “In passing the restriction, Portland follows more than 20 other US cities that have adopted similar laws during the last year, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Miami and Denver.”
These are the so-called “sanctuary cities” that harbor illegal and undocumented immigrants. A more apt term for these cities is “harboring havens.”
When the bill came to the floor of the House on March 15th to be referred to committee for public hearings, majority leader Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, moved to table the bill unassigned, effectively killing the bill without debate or public hearings — unless and until McCabe recalls the bill from the table.
A motion to “table unassigned” is not debatable. The tabling motion passed on a straight party-line roll call vote (#497) on Tuesday, March 15th.
Assistant majority leader Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, immediately threw down the race card. In a prepared statement, she alleged that the bill is “blatantly racist,” and would set up police “to pull over people based on the color of their skin…”
Gideon’s statement impugning the motives of her fellow legislators who co-sponsored the bill is so vile and so reprehensible on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin unpacking her explosive charge.
Are we to believe that Portland’s police officers are inherently racist, and would target minorities for harassment were it not for the city ordinance that forbids Portland police from inquiring into anyone’s immigration status? Is there any evidence that local police departments in other Maine municipalities are engaged in such conduct? Does anyone seriously believe that the Maine State Police make it a practice to pull people over based on the color of their skin? What about the cops in Gideon’s hometown of Freeport?
Is this another instance of Democrat leaders marching in lockstep with the leftist radicals at the Marxist Peoples Alliance, parroting the MPA’s open-borders agenda of welfare, drivers’ licenses, and voting rights for illegals?
If ever there were a piece of legislation that cries out for public hearings, LD 1652 is it. And the clock is running out.
Last Thursday I stood on the floor of the House to inquire through the Chair (Speaker Eves) whether or not Rep. McCabe is prepared to recall the bill from the table so that we can move forward with public hearings on this legislation. McCabe sat mute in his corner seat, and within minutes abruptly left the chamber before adjournment.
Maine people deserve better than this from their legislative leaders.
McCabe and Gideon need their feet held to the fire every day between now and April 20th.