With apologies to the Bard, there’s something rotten in Augusta.
This is my fifth legislative session in the start of my third term. I have seen things get progressively worse and more partisan over the last five years. What I saw this week was a complete breakdown of trust and a small flame of growing bipartisanship stamped out by the jackboot of one-party rule. If that wasn’t enough, the week ended with a Proclamation from the Governor that spirals Maine in a constitutional crisis.
Democrats have complete and total control of the House and Senate in Augusta. They control Blaine House. The majority Democrats even get to pick the Secretary of State, Treasurer and Attorney General. Essentially, the Maine Democratic Party makes the law and interprets the law all while being backstopped by Gov. Janet Mills. This is why we have constitutional protections: to stop the abuses of a tyrannical Majority.
This is also why the concept of Separation of Powers exists. It’s in the Maine state constitution under Article 3:Section 1. The Legislative, Judicial and Executive are all separate and co-equal branches of government. One branch cannot tell the other branch what to do. These branches must function independently for our government to work. They must not bully other branches or collude together.
Unfortunately, the latter is what we have going on in Augusta. The Legislative Branch and Executive Branch are colluding together to subvert the intent of Maine’s Constitution. This is an extremely dangerous thing. So much so that I would call it a constitutional crisis. The Speaker of the House, President of the Senate and Governor of Maine are all colluding together to cement the power of the Maine Democratic Party for decades to come in this state. They care nothing for the Constitution and have zero respect for the minority party or the voters who sent them to Augusta.
The standard operating procedure for budgets in Maine had always been for both parties to work together through mid-June negotiating and passing a bipartisan budget with a 2/3 vote. Under Janet Mills that changed. Maine has only rammed through and enacted a completely partisan biennial budget three times in the last quarter-century. Once under Angus King and now twice under Janet Mills.
Two years ago, they forced through a partisan budget and adjourned Sine Die in mid-March. They did this because a partisan budget needs to be passed and enacted ninety days from July, 1st which is the start of the new fiscal year. After adjourning Sine Die early both parties foolishly agreed to come back into a special session and finish the large amount of work that was left to do. Fool me once…
This week the majority Democrats hammered through a back-to-back partisan budget. This is the first time in Maine history this has happened. This new hyper-partisanship is the new standard operating procedure to pass a budget under Governor Janet Mills. Around 11pm on Thursday night after enacting the partisan budget, the Legislature adjourned itself ‘Sine Die’. ‘Sine Die’ is Latin for ‘With out Day’ and means the Legislature has stated that their work is done and they will not be setting another meeting day. Adjourning Sine Die means the Legislature has stated that the First Session is over.
For a Special Session to happen per the Maine constitution both parties must be polled to see if they want to come back for a Special. Democrats of course said, ‘Yes’ as they have a lot of bad bills they want to pass, but now they can’t because they just ended the First Session early. Republicans would not be fooled again and smartly said ‘No’ to a Special Session. The Legislature has spoken yet again. Their Work is done and both parties do not agree to a Special Session. Game. Set. Match.
Enter Governor Janet Mills who happily tread upon the sovereignty of the Legislative Branch by issuing a Proclamation on Friday to call the Legislature back into a Special Session to begin on Wednesday April, 5th with no statutory end date. This is the Executive Branch telling the Legislative Branch what they can and cannot do after they have already spoken. It is a clear violation of the Separation of Powers.
The Maine state constitution say the Governor can call a Special Session, but ONLY if there is an ‘Extraordinary Occasion’ that is a catalyst for calling such a Special Session like a pandemic or a natural disaster. The Legislative Branch saying that their work is done by adjourning Sine Die is not an ‘extraordinary occasion.’ The Legislature adjourns Sine Die every year and bills die because of it. There is nothing extraordinary about it at all.
Governor Janet Mills calling a Special Session because the Legislature adjourned itself early to pass her partisan budget ninety days from the start of the new fiscal year is an abuse of her Executive office and a clear violation of the Separation of Powers that is the glue that holds our government together.
This is a constitutional crisis. Decades of one-party Democrat rule in Maine has metastasized into the separate and co-equal branches of government colluding together to subvert our state constitution for the benefit of the Democratic party. Maine citizens represented by the Minority Party have no say in Augusta. Our constitution was designed to prevent this and protect the Minority, it must be embraced and respected. We all swore an oath to do just that.
We The People are the only solution to this constitutional crisis. This is why I write this piece with the intention of informing my fellow citizens of what is actually happening under the dome in Augusta. People need to know what is happening in our state because the media either misreports it or ignores stories that will damage the Majority party in power.
I want Maine people to know what’s rotten in Augusta when the fetid stench of one-party collusion and un-constitutional power grabs catches them down wind.