Citizens Tell Lawmakers: ‘Put Maine First’

More than 150 people from all over Maine brought a simple message to state lawmakers on Monday: “Put Maine First.” These citizen-lobbyists attended a legislative briefing organized by a coalition of groups working in the public interest and then made their way to the State House to have their voices heard.

EngageMaine’s Ben Dudley: “In the final days of the legislative session, dangerous and irresponsible bills are being rammed through the Legislature with little public debate or scrutiny. “Every person and every community in the state will be affected by this extreme agenda. The people who came to Augusta today are saying that it’s time to put Maine’s interests ahead of corporate lobbyists.Taken together, many of these proposals will create a permanent fiscal crisis for state government while punishing unemployed workers and some of the most vulnerable in our communities. It’s wrong to pull help away from the elderly, from children, from people with disabilities and from education to pay for risky tax schemes that will do nothing to help the economy.”

Lisa Pohlman, NRCM: “Many of the bills being rushed through will have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences.”

Thomas Ptacek, Homeless Voices for Justice: “Were it not for the help provided by GA, people would be homeless and find themselves on the streets. General Assistance is a last resort that people turn to because they have to, not because they want to. GA prevents homelessness.”

Legislation that was discussed during the briefing included LD 1805, which limits citizen access to public records; LD 1725, which punishes the unemployed with changes to unemployment insurance; LD 309, which undermines the ability of public employees to unionize; LD 1887, which dramatically restructures the Department of Health and Human Services; LD 1903, the governor’s supplemental budget; and LD 849, which creates a financial death spiral for the General Fund.

Groups involved in the briefing include: Consumers for Affordable Health Care; Engage Maine; EqualityMaine; Homeless Voices for Justice; Maine AFL-CIO; Maine Center for Economic Policy; Maine Education Association; Maine Equal Justice Partners; Maine People’s Alliance; Maine State Employees Association – SEIU Local 1989; Maine Women’s Lobby; National Association of Social Workers – Maine Chapter; Natural Resources Council of Maine; and Preble Street.