January 23, 2020
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Maine GOP misleads about two people’s veto efforts

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
The State House in Augusta, as seen from Capital Park.

I am deeply disturbed by what appears to be blatant dishonesty and disregard for the truth by the Maine Republican Party in order to fire up their base. Recently, I received an email that was sent out to thousands of Mainers that I believe deserves clarification in the public eye.

On July 30, the Maine GOP sent out a mass email to their membership from Guy Lebida on behalf of Jason Savage, the party’s executive director. The email was a call to action to recruit volunteers to collect signatures for two people’s veto referendum petitions to “STOP Socialist legislation coming out of Augusta”.

From the email: “The Green New Deal LD 1282 (Requires new schools as well as State infrastructure and manufacturing facilities to install “green” solar facilities and then pay for the energy) Each solar panel installation will raise our electric bills. This bill also radically intrudes on the role of contractors in school construction jobs and will drive up costs.”

This is absolutely and utterly false.

LD 1282 (the “Green New Deal” bill), in its original form, was largely goal setting, aiming to greatly increase our procurement of renewable energy and investment in energy efficiency. The bill would have created study groups to come up with a plan and analyze the many aspects of our state’s economy that would be impacted by such a transition; most importantly, the impact on Maine’s low-income residents. The ideas were incorporated into Gov. Janet Mills’ Climate Council goals that became law this past session.

In its final form, LD 1282 had two main pieces. One piece directs the Efficiency Maine Trust to help school districts identify and provide incentives for cost-effective electric and natural gas conservation projects in state-funded new school construction projects. It further directs the Efficiency Maine Trust to arrange solar power purchase agreements and encourage the installation of solar panels for state-funded new school construction projects if the school district chooses to do so.

This legislation makes no requirements of schools, but rather gives them the tools to have the lowest possible impact on our environment and lowest possible operating costs to keep municipal expenses under control. As the old saying goes, “If you are going to build it, build it right the first time.”

The other piece of the legislation, unrelated to schools, requires that with any new construction of a large-scale electric generation facility in the state, the business constructing the facility must hire and train a certain percentage of qualified apprentices, starting at 10% of their crew in 2021 and reaching 25% of their crew by 2025. If there are no qualified apprentices available, businesses don’t have to meet the mandated requirement. It is an opportunity to train our own residents in a growing sector that promises good wages and meaningful employment without having to go into debt for that education and experience.

The GOP email also said: “The abortions-without-doctors bill, LD 1261, that makes Maine an extreme outlier allowing not only prescriptions for abortions, but actual medical procedures, to be performed without a doctor present. It also allows minors to get these procedures without parental consent or notice.”

I understand that there may never be consensus as to how abortion should be treated in our country, however this statement about LD 1261 is completely untrue.

The truth is Maine is not an “extreme outlier.” Seven other states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Alaska, California, Colorado, New York and Oregon) already permit nurse practitioners and Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs) to perform abortions. Twenty other states allow APCs to provide abortion care in some capacity.

Maine law requires minors to obtain parental consent for abortion services unless the minor has petitioned the court to do so, which is no easy undertaking. This has been the case since 1989. LD 1261 has nothing to do with that at all.

To label these new laws as “Socialist” is a complete mischaracterization. It is just a label being used to spur a reaction of fear and anger.

Spreading misinformation is irresponsible. It’s fine to disagree and it’s important to debate, but without facts, no productive conversations can be had. The people of Maine deserve better from their elected officials and party leaders. I will keep doing my part to share the truth about the work we’re doing in Augusta, and I hope others will do the same.

Chris Kessler, D-South Portland, represents District 32 in the Maine House of Representatives.


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