Archive for February 19th, 2014

Maine Senate Votes 19-16 Against LD 1428, “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom”

Posted on February 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

On the same day that Kansas state senators rejected a similar bill that had won support in that state’s House, Maine’s Senate took up LD 1428, “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom” (earlier write up here).

A lengthy floor debate transpired with many senators on both sides standing to present their views. Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Linda Valentino (D-Cumberland) spoke first in strong opposition to the bill:

    “I see this bill as a step backwards. I see this bill as being filled with unintended consequences. I see this bill as being used as an end run around the Maine Human Rights Act. … It is trying to erode the existing women’s rights and gay rights that we have fought so hard to attain. I support and believe strongly in the First Amendment which provides for religious freedom, but I cannot support this bill because it is a step backwards. This bill would allow extremists to hide behind the words ‘religious freedom’ as a way to circumvent our anti-discrimination laws.”

Earlier, Valentino had issued the following statement as the committee voted 8-4 ONTP on the bill before sending it to the Senate:

    “I support and believe strongly in the First Amendment which provides for religious freedom. This bill would do nothing more than foster and legalize discrimination. We’ve come too far to take such a drastic step backward. One danger of this measure is the unintended consequences. Because your religion ‘says so’ does not mean you have carte blanche to break the law.”

1428 senateLD 1428 sponsor Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) disagreed with his colleague’s assessment.

    “This law basically says that the government should be held to a very high level of proof before it enacts a law. This is about government. this isn’t about private citizens against private citizens. It does not allow religious people to get away with anything they want to. It does not guarantee claimants a victory in government actions. It simply requires that the government has a strong justification.”

Senator Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) agreed with Valentino.

    “I believe wholeheartedly in religious freedom as established in our U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of Maine. What I do not support is the overreach in this bill. My parents taught me long ago that my right to swing my arms ends when it meets up against another person’s right to not be assaulted. We all have to live this balance, free to personally hold and practice beliefs, but not free to impose our beliefs on others at the expense of their rights. Our laws exist to codify and implement balances between the many constitutionally expressed rights, as well as the interactions between people holding those rights.”

Ultimately the bill was voted “ONTP” (ought not to pass), 19-16. It now will go before the House for more votes.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Medicaid Spending is Consuming the General Fund

Posted on February 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Audio link here.

Medicaid Spending is Consuming the General Fund

Medicaid spending from Maine’s last expansion of welfare is already crowding out revenue for all other state agencies. Now liberals want to expand welfare again. This will be disastrous for state government.

lepage sots Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Liberals say that expanding Medicaid is free. They say the federal government will foot the bill. They don’t tell you it would cost Maine taxpayers millions of dollars. On top of that, DHHS would have to hire 90 to 100 new employees to administer the 100,000 people that will join Maine’s welfare rolls.

Folks, nothing is free. The federal government will not pay for all these new state employees. It will not pay for all other administrative costs. This will impact every agency in state government.

We’ve been down this road before. Maine already expanded welfare. Medicaid enrollment more than doubled. Its cost has grown by 1.3 billion dollars. It racked up a welfare debt of 750 million dollars to our hospitals.

Reduced federal money has forced Maine to spend an additional 210 million dollars between 2010 and 2014.

Medicaid now consumes 25 percent of all General Fund revenue. If liberals succeed in expanding welfare again, Medicaid will devour 45 percent of the General Fund.

State government has already eliminated or reduced funding for education, law enforcement, economic development and protection of our natural resources. Quite simply, Medicaid is cannibalizing revenue from all other state agencies.

That means the state cannot fully pay its 55 percent share of local education costs. It cannot hire more Maine State Troopers or repair National Guard facilities. The state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct scientific marine research on Maine’s fisheries.

The state cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.

Expanding welfare a decade did not increase access or improve the quality of care. It did not help uninsured Mainers. Thousands of elderly and disabled are still on waiting lists.

We must help Maine families prosper, improve the business climate and protect our most vulnerable Mainers. We cannot do that while Medicaid is eating up our limited financial resources.

I ask you: “What is different this time around?”

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