Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A political thought or two

I'm a little bit late getting started this Wednesday morning.  No excuses.  Perhaps I could use my difficulty in coming up with a topic as an excuse.  Or perhaps it's because I was up a little later than usual last night.  And it was an unhappy outcome; the Florida Gators lost the College World Series baseball championship to defending champion South Carolina.  At least an SEC team won.  So, I'm just a little bit late getting started.

I mentioned last week I'd give my opinion on the current Maine Legislature.  That'll wait a little longer as the session is continuing.  It should end either today or Thursday.  Right now I'm thinking it was only a so-so legislative session.  I do think it proved something I said early on.  Republicans have no clue on how to run a state and, if they do have ideas, have no intestinal fortitude to fight for what's right.

Maine voters, at least according to my interpretation which is far from authoritative, made a drastic change last November in both houses of the legislature and in the governor's office and put Republicans in control after about 40 years of Democratic domination, domination I think has led this state to near collapse.  But those Republicans kept members of the "Old Republican Guard" as leaders who had been a part of the Democratic resolve of years past. 

In spite of some accomplishments, that "change" I think the voters had demanded has not happened.

Perhaps I'll get into my interpretation of the truths at a later time.  I do recognize there are more than one version of "the truth."  Even members of the same parties see those truths differently, but my version says the Legislature was so-so at best.

The Legislature yesterday did have a couple accomplishments with which I agree.  Traditionally, although certainly not 100% of the time, when the people present a petition to get something done, the Legislature has sent the proposal out to the voters for approval.  Citizens petitioned for new gaming facilities in Lewiston and Biddeford.

There had been some speculation that since voters had approved gambling in recent years, the Legislature might just give its approval this time around.  A facility in Washington County, which voters had rejected earlier, tried to join Lewiston and Biddeford for Legislative approval.  Biddeford was seeking approval on the basis of a favorable "Racino" statewide vote a few years back as Scarborough Downs, which was rejected in its town proposed to move to Biddeford.  Lewiston and Washington County thought the statewide approval of the Oxford County casino would give them a leg up.

The Legislature, however, maintained the tradition of sending citizen initiative requests out to the voters again.  That vote will take place in November.  The Washington County proposal, not a citizen initiative this time around, was simply rejected.

Possibly the governor's threat of a veto if those initiatives were not sent to the voters played an important and powerful part in the Legislature's decision.  The downside, I guess, is now we're going to bombarded...again...with those gambling campaigns.  I will remain consistant in my vote.

Another measure approved yesterday is one I think I agree was a good decision.  Up to ten Charter Schools will be allowed in Maine giving families choices of where their children will attend school.  As I understand the new law, funds for education will follow the child rather than just go to the community in which the child lives.  Therefore, local public schools face the possibility of losing some funding.  I guess I'll have to wait until we start seeing results and improved education before I can make a definitive decision.

Finally, there is a "People's Veto" attempt underway.  The Legislature and the Governor have approved a measure to end voter registration on election day.  The veto supporters say this will disenfranchise some people.  I totally disagree as there are many ways to register to vote without waiting until election day.  I think the proposal will just eliminate the temptations of what one Democrat leader said, "There's always a potential for political mischief." 

Another item that could have helped eliminate that political mischief was eliminated from the bill.  That provision would have required identification to vote.  Again, opponents cited "undo hardships" as a reason against the provision.  Considering all the times I have to identify myself before doing something such as cashing a check, getting a new license, buying a beer at the Sea Dogs games, and on and on, makes that "hardship" argument rather specious.  The only "hardship" I can think of is that provision would have prevented some of that "political mischief."  Perhaps there's a certain element of our society that believes it can't win elections without it.


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