Sen. Scott Cyrway – Second Session Bills
The titles for potential new bills have been submitted for the Second Session of the current legislature and boy are there a lot of them.
Hello, I am State Senator Scott Cyrway of Senate District 16, which includes communities in Kennebec and Somerset Counties.
Despite the Constitutional principle of focusing on budgetary and emergency bills in the second session, lawmakers have just submitted 399 new requests for consideration in January. Any of these measures that are accepted as new bills will compete for legislative time with 410 existing bills that were held over from the last session and still require legislative action.
Here are a few examples.
In order to allow people to enter and leave Maine from space, there is a bill to create the “Maine Spaceport Complex.”
Despite the fact that Mainers voted to raise the minimum wage beginning in 2017 and it is in the process of going up incrementally, an additional increase is of an emergency nature as a bill to do so has been submitted.
Just a few months ago the legislature killed the “Red Flag” bill, which would have allowed law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms from people they feel are a threat. Two new bills have been submitted that would go much further than the Red Flag bill. One bill would ban assault-style weapons and another would ban “trafficking” in firearms altogether.
It is no secret that government programs are most likely to succeed when they are guided by a detailed plan and each action leads toward accomplishing the goals of that plan.
Back in August when Republicans voted against borrowing money via bonds for land conservation through the Land for Maine’s Future program, we expressed a concern that there is no statewide plan for conserving land.
The Maine Department of Transportation has such a plan with tremendous detail covering the next three years.
This is how large government investments should be handled with funding directed toward the highest priorities based on a detailed survey and assessment of statewide needs.
MDOT presented such a plan and Republicans voted overwhelming to fund it. Unfortunately, state government does not have such a plan for land conservation or broadband Internet. After the concerns expressed by Republicans in August, neither Democrat leaders in the Legislature nor the Mills administration have taken steps to create such a statewide plan for either program.
Despite this, there are now two different bills submitted to spend millions on land conservation in Maine without a statewide plan on how that money can accomplish whatever goals have been identified.
With broadband, the same “forge ahead without a plan” seems to still be the goal. While Democrats have submitted “An Act to Provide Funding for Broadband Internet Infrastructure in Unserved and Underserved Areas,” they do not appear to have submitted any bills calling for a detailed plan that lays out statewide goals and how this funding will accomplish these goals.
Despite the intent of the Maine Constitution and state statutes to limit the length and expense of Second Session legislative deliberations, it is looking as if the work that will begin in January may take a long time.
Again, I am State Senator Scott Cyrway of Senate District 16.
Get outside during this long weekend and enjoy the Maine foliage.