Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, answered questions recently from BDN readers about genetically modified foods labeling, the Affordable Care Act and whether he’s adjusting to life in Washington, D.C.
Question: How do you stand on the attempts to repeal the “Monsanto act,” and will you take action to force GMO foods to be properly labeled? — Mandi Oechslie
“I support repealing that. I should say, by the way, that even if nothing happens in the next few weeks, it disappears by virtue of the language of the law at the end of September, in any case. I think the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be able to make these decisions. They shouldn’t be forced to make them, which the so-called Monsanto amendment did.
“As far as GMO labeling — genetically engineered food — the model I prefer is the same model that we’ve had experience with on organic food. In other words, if a producer wants to label their food as no-genetic modification, they should be able to do so. That will inform the consumers.”
Question: What is your response to businesses cutting nationwide hours of their employees so they don’t have to offer health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, particularly for businesses here in Maine? How can we be expected to buy health insurance or pay a fine when the hours of work are being set below any kind of standard of living? — Sue Richards
“I know there are a lot of concerns about it, but is it really happening and to what extent? The problem under the Affordable Care Act was there had to be lines drawn somewhere about who was a full-time employee and who wasn’t. Thirty hours was chosen, and there may be cases of people, of employers, who are actually making this kind of distinction, but the vast majority of employers in Maine and elsewhere already provide health insurance to their employees and won’t be affected by the bill one way or another. I think this is a case where we’re going to have to see how it works over the next several months and into next year and then if we have to take steps to fix it, that’s what we’ll do.”
Question: How are you adjusting to life in Washington? — Sam Robinson
“I walk to work in the morning, spend the day here, usually get home 7:30 or 8 at night, review the work prepared for the next day and fall asleep, so I’m adjusted to that in the sense that I’m getting used to the routine. … I’m enjoying the work. It’s hard. By the time Friday comes I’m pretty exhausted, but I suspect that’s the same feeling most people in Maine have when Friday afternoon comes. But it’s exciting work. I find it invigorating, and I’m a person who is curious. I like public policy, and I like trying to fix things, and if that’s your criteria, then what I’m doing right now is a pretty great job.”