Journalistic control of state governments has declined since the advent of the Internet. Big money has dramatically increased its influence on state politics. Yet there are lawmakers who have the high ideals and skills to get valuable legislation through committees and both chambers to help average Mainern despite the big lobbyists. Some examples of exemplary leadership:
• Republican Senator Rick Bennett, Democratic MP Nicole Grohoski, supported a law to prevent foreign government-owned companies from interfering in referendum campaigns (LD 194). Foreign governments buying their way into the candidate elections have been illegal since 1966. The Maine attorney general said he would defend the similar principle of the LD 194. The majority of the House and Senate supported this legislation, and the Democrats overwhelmingly supported it.
• Rep. Lynne Williams sponsored LD 418, which would marginally increase the property transfer tax on homes valued at over $ 1 million to increase affordable housing. Under LD 418, the tax on these luxury homes would remain three times lower than New Hampshire and Vermont. This law was passed by both chambers with strong support from the Democrats.
• Senate President Troy Jackson tried to protect people and the environment from the poison glyphosate (LD 125). “Science says this stuff kills people, kills wildlife,” Jackson said, adding that large landowners “maximize the profits from Mainer lives.” LD 125 was passed in both chambers – with strong support from the Democrats. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association called the opposition’s apologies “smoke and mirrors”. Maine Conservation voters approved. Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D-Saco, said the topics of conversation from lobbyists “failed the face test”. Rep. O’Neil added that the air poison defense state is “just shameful.”
• Senator Ned Claxton sponsored LD 675. Sen Jackson sponsored LD 1117. Both bills would blame drug companies for driving up drug prices without justification and undermining people who need drugs to survive. Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC) is committed to helping Mainers get the healthcare they need from America’s bureaucratic, confiscated healthcare system. CAHC does not work for the winning bidder. CAHC policy experts endorsed this proposal from the National Academy of State Health Policy. Despite Big Pharma, both bills were passed in committee and in both chambers.
• Rep. Seth Berry sponsored LD 1708, which would end the company’s power monopoly and place oversight in the hands of Mainers. In numerous jurisdictions, the end of the corporate monopoly on electricity supply has put more money in the pockets of tariff payers. According to economist Richard Silkman, a Pine Tree consumer-owned utility would save Maine electricity payers $ 9 billion over 30 years. CMP can afford huge teams of big lobbyists, but Rep. Berry got its legislation through the committee and both chambers.
These five bills, sponsored by dedicated elected officials, were all passed in the House and Senate of Maine, despite the large money lobbyists, with strong support from Democratic lawmakers. All were then vetoed.
The stereotype is that politicians jump to the head of a parade that is already in motion, but some lawmakers are initiating change and overcome powerful opposition with skill and determination. All of these bills had one thing in common: They were opposed to major financial interests.
A recent news article described the LD 1708 and LD 194 as designed to violate CMP, as if this multi-billion dollar monopoly was a defenseless toddler, not a giant foreign-owned company operating about $ 1.2 million spent to get their way through lobbying and dark money “education” groups. The article didn’t mention the purpose of the legislation: to protect Mainers’ wallets.
When democratic politicians side with large corporations against the average citizen, today’s media tends to label such politicians as “moderate”. Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy saw their main role in being with average people. What has changed is the tremendous increase in the power of big money over government policy and the gradual but decisive decline in the number of journalists shedding light on back-room maneuvers through which big money wields that power.
Speaking about environmental legislation and LD 1708 in particular at that session, Senator Chloe Maxmin said, “There have been really great opportunities to move forward … We have fallen flat.”
Such lawmakers may not become famous with hard work, idealism, and skill to do the right thing, but these leaders are the best that public service has to offer – examples to be emulated. These officials deserve the utmost respect for excellent leadership.
– Special for the Press Herald
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