Senate Democrats Squandered One Last Chance to Get Things Right
Hello, I am Senator Trey Stewart from Presque Isle.
Earlier in this legislative session, Maine citizens submitted nearly 400 pieces of written testimony in support of 14 bills designed to require any future governor of Maine to collaborate with the legislative branch whenever a declaration of emergency needed to be renewed.
This is no radical position to take. From about fourth grade we all learned that our government is made up of three co-equal branches, each of which provides checks and balances against the other two.
Since last March when Governor Mills declared a state of emergency following the arrival of COVID-19, she has largely ruled the state without any input from the legislative branch.
During this time, more than 160 businesses across the state have closed forever.
Despite this overwhelming outpouring from the public on the 14 bills, Democrats on the State and Local Government Committee voted unanimously to kill all of them.
This past week, the State Senate had one last chance to acknowledge the vigorously expressed will of the people when they debated and voted on LD 985, which I sponsored.
This bill would have allowed the people to vote on whether or not to amend the Maine State Constitution and require governors to seek the approval of the Legislature before renewing an emergency declaration lasting longer than 60 days.
After some debate, all but one Senate Democrat voted yet again to thwart the outspoken will of the people and to prevent them from having a chance to vote on enshrining their point of view in the Constitution.
During a speech to my colleagues on the Senate floor, I pointed out that the Legislative Branch is the one closest to the people and therefore can best represent the interests of their constituents.
While the Governor has, and exerts, near absolute power through these declarations, those who serve in our branch cannot properly represent the people who elected us.
To make my point, I read a list of the more than 160 Maine businesses that have been closed as a result of the current Governor’s actions during the pandemic.
Without the input of their local Legislators, these businesses had no voice in state government and are now permanently closed.
My Democratic colleagues have now had many opportunities to acknowledge the constitutional, co-equal role of the legislative branch and have repeatedly rejected the right of the people to be heard through their legislators.
At the same time, they again turned a deaf ear to the hundreds of Maine citizens who spoke out in favor of forcing the Governor to work cooperatively with the legislative branch in times of great emergency.
Again, I am Senator Trey Stewart. Have a safe and happy spring weekend!