Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Getting squashed

Al Diamon

Republicans in the Maine Legislature are about to get flattened.

The Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate are planning to steamroll the minority GOP. And Republicans have no one to blame for their impending irrelevance but themselves.

Prior to the August special legislative session on bond issues, Dem leaders offered a couple of concessions to Republicans concerned about the amount of proposed borrowing. The size of the bond package was reduced from more than $200 million to about $160 million. And the donkey party agreed to hold separate votes on each of the four bonds, rather than consolidating them in a single unwieldy blob.

The GOP had previously insisted on both these changes before they would even consider providing the needed votes to achieve the two-thirds majorities required to send bonds out to voters. After Democrats conceded, they were under the impression the elephant party would supply enough support to achieve that.

So much for impressions. While a $105 million bond for transportation programs received significant GOP support, the other three bonds – for rural broadband, public lands and workforce development – got squadoosh. An insignificant smattering of House Republicans voted for broadband, even though many of them come from areas where internet access is primitive to nonexistent. Few backed the land bond, even though they represent districts where outdoor recreation is a significant part of the economy. In the Senate, no member of the GOP voted for anything except fixing roads and bridges.

Not surprisingly, Democrats were more than mildly annoyed. Senate President Troy Jackson, whose default setting is more than mildly annoyed, displayed his customary pique by abruptly reviving a bill he sponsored to expand ranked-choice voting to presidential elections, and ramming it through on simple majority votes, over strenuous Republican objections.

But that’s just the beginning.

Off-the-record discussions with prominent Democrats indicate that when the Legislature reconvenes in January, the opposition party is in for a heaping helping of revenge.

“If Republicans had given us enough votes to pass either the public lands or broadband bonds, we wouldn’t be all that upset,” an influential Dem said. “But they suckered us into this situation, and now they’re going to pay.”

That’s a marked change from relations between the parties during the legislative session that wrapped up in June. While Democrats used their numerical edge to pass several measures they’d long sought – Medicaid expansion, publicly funded abortions, family leave – they were somewhat deferential to the minority party by occasionally amending bills to reflect GOP concerns. For instance, family leave is required only at companies larger than in the original proposal and won’t take effect until next year. In return for these small shows of deference, Republicans didn’t block the state budget, which also required a two-thirds vote.

Democrats expected similar cooperation on bonding. When that didn’t happen, their thin veneer of goodwill evaporated.

According to the state Constitution, the short legislative session in January is supposed to be limited to “emergency” matters, but the definition of “emergency” is subject to interpretation by the majority party. Democrats will likely decide that bills they support qualify, while those favored by Republicans don’t. And since there’s little on the agenda that requires two-thirds votes, there’s no need to compromise.

“Republicans are going to regret those bond votes,” a key Democrat told me. “This is going to be fun.”

That definition of “fun” depends on whether you’re on top of the steamroller or underneath it.

Flatten me or flatter me by emailing aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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24 Responses »

  1. As Al continues his unfettered campaign for the socialist of Maine (aka the Democratic Party) i will translate this for the educated voter. By "fun" they mean new taxes and increases on existing taxes. (Al, when are you going to be transparent about your association with our governor?)

    There were over 560 new laws put on the books by this legislature and governor, a 25% increase over the previous legislative session. Call up your reps and senators and tell them to stop the insanity.

  2. Remember Hillary,,??
    Neither do I.. lol

    Al,, there is a reason why you didn't name your "important" Democrat source..
    They know better.

  3. The Republican party is guided by one principal. Take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich. They do not care about conservation,climate change or people having affordable health care. The Democrats have done more for this state in 8 months than the Republicans did in 8 years

  4. They voted down the land bill because it is poorly written and doesn't specify whose land is going to be purchased with it, simply states that the Land for Maine's Future board gets to choose the who, and with a large chunk money going straight to Portland, And the conservation of what land, Maine is 90% private property, which means we, the taxpayers of Maine would be paying people to take care of their own land, which is wrong on so many levels, and if Maine has more state parks than it can take care of without a $95 million dollar loan, maybe Maine should close some and sell the land, that's how real people make a budget work, car payment too high so the house payment is short, sell the car, it sucks but Maine has to trim the fat. I live in a zero internet area, nothing would trill me more than to have it, but I am not willing to saddle the Maine taxpayers with $100 million dollar loan to Spectrum or whoever through ConnectME to get it, Spectrum cleared $43 billion last year, If Iberdrola who cleared $34 billion last year can run powerlines all over the state with miles in between customers in places and maintain them giving services to those who want it, Spectrum can do the same, they just choose not to, and CMP charges a lot less for electricity than Spectrum does for internet.

  5. Re public lands- the vast majority of acres acquired or eased with the last $100 million in LMF funding, and the majority of the money, was in the 2nd Congressional District, which already has the vast majority of public land to start with. When the majority of the money is targeted on York, Cumberland, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Knox Counties, the GOP will support the lands bond. As long as it continues to be targeted on Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Aroostook and Washington, not so much

  6. What's going to happen to the Democrats when the people who live here start losing their homes, and with the rapidly increasing crime and MURDER RATE we're now seeing following new Democrat policies? Gonna take a lot of tax raising to pay teachers $40k, and all the other very expensive things.

    David - you must be smoking some of that recreational stuff...you clearly are not paying attention to the Elite Democrats who are robbing us all blind to import new voters. Don't confuse LEAVING PEOPLE ALONE with being 'all for the rich', please. And no, I don't make over $40k HOUSEHOLD income.

  7. David forgot to mention the Republican also don't like children and women and they also kick dogs. They are just a party run by old white men...

  8. It is the 'Democrat Party....Not the Democratic Party....Take a good look at Chicago, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Philadelphia, New York City and on and on and on.....Keep electing the Democrats and guess what Maine will look like within a few years...

  9. Sounds like David has been mainlining the Kool-Aid. David, you must not fully comprehend the whole socialism thing. Hold on David let me see what part of my pay you are entitled to, 5% to Massachusetts, $3200 plus 7.1% to Maine and $18,000 plus 24% to the feds, that's what I figured, you're not entitled to any of it and thanks to Trump my fed taxes dropped 4 points, 4 points might not sound like much, but it's a 4 and this many 000 zeros. Trump isn't the one making Walmart rich, people like you and I and millions of other people like us are, every time we buy something from Walmart we contribute to Walmart's bottom line, and what part of the Walton's money are you entitled to? None. It's the barter system, they offer hamburger at $3.99 a pound and we offer them $3.99 of our money in return. You don't get to demand they sell the meat for less and pay more in taxes simply because you think they have too much money and can afford to do so, that is not yours or anybody's decision to make. And you have to ask yourself something, what is a doctor's time and effort worth? They spend up to 15 years AFTER high school before they can become a doctor, more than a few people can't even manage to get through 4 years of high school even though they are perfectly capable of doing so. Medical school costs $60,000 per year, they need 8 years, $480,000 and they still aren't doctors, they need 7-11 years of residency before they can apply to become fully licensed doctors(the NHS in the UK loves their junior doctors and nursing practitioners, the government can pay them whatever and they are stuck in the NHS because in the UK only licensed doctors can start their own practices, junior doctors in the UK earn about 26,000pounds) residents(American version of a junior doctor) earn $50,000(that's as much as most fully licensed doctors in the UK NHS earn) so after all that schooling and time and effort into becoming a doctor they deserve to be well paid, they shouldn't be working for damn near free.

  10. No matter which side of the political bench you sit on, we the people are always under that steamroller. While the politicians (who get paid by us, remember) are having such "fun" trying to thwart one another for purely partisan reasons, we're out here in the real world getting the short end of every stick, every time.
    I do like the word "squadoosh".

  11. Oh thank you Republican legislators for saving me from getting broadband internet out here in the wilderness of Maine - 7 1/2 MILES FROM DOWNTOWN FARMINGTON - THE COUNTY SEAT OF FRANKLIN COUNTY...

    Now I can stay with my DSL (Digital Slow Line) interweb from TDS (Terrible Digital Service) routinely achieving a blazing 0.75 Mbps download speeds on a promised 5 Mbps service.

    Anyone who believes that we should just turn business loose to achieve the maximum economic benefit to the largest number of people is dreaming. It took the Great Depression and then the Federal Government to get rural electrification to the people outside the cities and towns. Internet connectivity seems to be the same....

  12. @Maineboy broadband is not a requirement for survival it’s a luxury. My kids can use their school laptops without the extra bill. They use the hot spot on phone. All these dems that are screaming about a “climate crisis” shouldn’t be pushing for ways to use and waste more energy !!!!

  13. David, I,ve taken from the rich for 45 plus years and it's served me and my family well. They have provided us with medical benefits ,401k , new cars, houses , social security ,pension fund, and all sorts of climate changing toys . All with no college education .
    There's all kinds of opportunity to take from the rich, like allot of people I chose to work.
    Look for that hand up and take it not the hand out.
    MaineBoy , just move To town.

  14. Well people, I have worked all my life, have done OK, and as it seems to be important to you, I have never had to have my hand out. I didn't have to rely on the schools to provide my children with a laptop. And, as it also seems to be important to you to judge me for asking for a luxury, I don't need a decent reliable internet connection for gaming or streaming, just to be able to stay connected with my family and to be able to communicate with my medical providers. I guess only town people should be entitled to that access. The internet is becoming the backbone of commerce and we should make reasonable attempts to have industry provide that backbone to all our Maine citizens. But that's not the 19th century model of life that we like to cling to...

  15. All you have to do to get us to support paying a company to give you cable and fast internet...is to stop throwing out 'free healthcare' to all those thousands of able-bodied people, and stop forcing taxpayers to support illegal aliens. It's simple. I'll meet you halfway on that....we cannot have nice things if we are going to have a welfare state. You CAN'T have it all, on the back of the taxpayer, MaineBoy.

    (well, if you want to be a wage slave, we may be able to, and low-income people can't own a home of their own, of course).

    Sorry your internet isn't fast enough, and that you think some Ecommerce thing will save maine, LOL!! Not happening, companies don't want to relocate to where they are not welcome.

  16. RBO - hear, hear! That's what it's all about. Everything I have, I also had to work for. It's good for you.

  17. All this socialism talk is silly. Almost every Republican and Democrat agree that none of us would be making the money we earn if we didn't have a stable political system with rule of law, an infrastructure, and services like education, police protection, etc., that help keep the society stable and effective. Nobody's income would be what it was without a state and its regulations. The wealthy are wealthy in large part because of the state, the taxes it collects, and the services it provides. If they have to pay a bit of that wealth to keep the system functioning well, they should do it gladly. They're the ones benefiting, even if they tell themselves they are the ones paying out!

  18. I'm sorry OverRegulated - all of those regulations must be distracting you.

    I wasn't " throwing out 'free healthcare' to all those thousands of able-bodied people, and stop forcing taxpayers to support illegal aliens...". All I was discussing was the unwillingness of companies to provide their services in a way that benefits the broad population at an appropriate level. I have no idea of your age, but you may/may not remember that local land line telephone services were subsidized by the rates for long distance services. This was done to get the phone companies to put a phone in everyone's home. When companies are unwilling to provide something that is becoming an important part of living in America (like phones in the old days and internet for access to the services and goods that are disappearing from the local landscape today) a solution should be found.

    And as far as companies being "welcome" or "not welcome" that really means being able to extract the most money while providing the least services. E-commerce will not "save Maine" anymore than the post office or UPS or the highways or the trains or the airport will "save Maine". They are just tools that business (which includes small local businesses) can use to do their business in Maine.

    And, one last time, I only want my internet top be fast enough to allow for reasonable connections to the web. Same way I wanted a dial tone and my calls to go through when I picked up the phone. Period.

  19. MaineBoy, Nobody has a right to demand anything from a company they don't own. You are not entitled to the internet, or you can start your own internet company, the way the folks at Redzone did. They are not big company affiliated, I even heard of a small town in Russia doing the same thing because they couldn't get internet where they were. Spectrum, TDS, Beeline or whoever else, none of them will give you the speed like claimed 100mbps such as Spectrum claims, the type of hardware you use will bottleneck it, if you get 100mbps to the router and modem, but they only put out 50mbps, that is a bottleneck, if your wireless card is getting 50mbps but can only put out 25mbps, there is another bottleneck. if they send out 100mbps you have to get hardware that will put out 100mbps. Then there are other factors as well, do you have a high ping or a low ping, where is the information coming from, how fast can the other site put out the information, what type of packet did they use, packet switching(shared data) or circuit switching(direct data). I know a guy who lives within sight of the end of Spectrum's line, they won't run the cable because there are not 40 people per mile, it's a company policy and they are well within their rights to set their own policies. No amount of money the state throws at these people will get them to change their policy, LePage tried, they agreed to upgrade the internet in Bangor, Augusta, Waterville, Portland and some of the bigger smaller towns, but they refused to extend the lines any further than they currently ran because there wasn't any long term money in it for them. Which they can do because it is their line and their company.

  20. As we view the opinions stated here, including Al's, it is important to remember that Maine is one of the states where the citizenry has almost aged out. So, some of this commentary might be considered as "back in the day things were much better". Progress is often bucked, and we often throw out the baby with the bathwater. I'm seeing a lot of rabid language here in the comments and that doesn't really lead to the kinds of compromise that we really need to move toward in this country. Let's stop the arguing...

  21. @Oldenuff
    And your point is the old ones should just be quiet and go along with the young??
    Because???

  22. "Progress": driving up property taxes and all the other taxes so high that people can't pay and lose their homes. You'd better HOPE the D's aren't able to "squash" dissent, or living in this state will be just like living in MA in <5 years - without the jobs to back it up. If you pay $1800 in property tax now, in that time, you'll be paying over $4000. Along with fuel taxes and all the other junk they can think up. To fund projects in the 1st District, to buy more votes, to get more power, etc etc etc. That's ok by them - then more ppl from CT can move in, use the fast internet and work from YOUR old home in 2nd District. That is the idea.

    Vote them out next time, Mainers. You better pay attention to the spending going on RIGHT NOW. It's you and your kids' responsibility, not the politicians.

  23. @ KnowsBetter,

    Your comment deserves a response that you will no doubt discount because of the reasons you gave in your comment. No Cares here.

    My response is ,, Awhatever Owhatever Cortez.
    AOC is a perfect example of what's wrong with the direction we're going (at least the Dems anyways).
    Has anyone actually listened to or watched her in action??
    Or are you one of her "groupies" following her on "anti"social media?
    The girl is a celebrity to the young and foolish.

    Tlaib is now selling tshirts repeating her "Impeach the MF" for her reelection.
    Omar displaying her hatred for the Jewish people.

    And when ANYONE dares speak against them,,,it's immediately called racism against women of color or some other lie they make up to shut people up.

    The racism and sexism displayed by the squad and the other "women of color" is just plain wrong.
    Their behavior cannot be blamed on anything trump or anyone else has done, They Own It.
    They do not have to tear down people like they are.
    They choose to,,, they are just angry and wrong.

    If this is the progress you mention,,,
    No Thanks!

    Thankfully we have options to the likes of them.
    We're not going to go away,,we're just going a different way.

    Remember Hillary??
    Stay Tuned Folks,,

  24. Well said (or written in this case) "A Different Way"......I am with you!!

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