Emergency powers in the Maine statute expressly delegate the authority to “Control the ingress and egress of persons and occupancy of premises within the State pursuant to the movement of persons within the State.”
This is Representative Kathy Javner from Chester and that is the language cited in the Governor’s most recent Executive Order, in which she attempts to restrict visitors to the state of Maine.
The new plan entitled “Keep Maine Healthy,” a name which implies we are healthy even though the Governor has yet to lift restrictions on Mainers and their employment, seeks to modify the travel restrictions imposed in earlier executive orders.
There is broad agreement that the 14-day quarantine, imposed 23 executive orders ago, on out of state travelers is unenforceable. There is now a pending federal lawsuit asserting it is illegal.
The Governor is responding to these facts and we appreciate that she is trying, but this new “plan” like the others before it is the product of an insular management style that lacks transparency. In light of the science and data, it is also too little, too late, to prevent more destruction of our economy and social wellbeing.
The state’s response to the pandemic continues to be a one-woman show that disregards what Maine’s elected leaders have to say, what employers and their workers have to say, and even what other states have learned.
The new plan requires people who wish to come to Maine and not adhere to a 14-day quarantine,to certify to the lodging facility that they have received a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving at the lodging establishment.
If tourists are unwilling to get this travel certificate, then, upon their arrival in the state, they must continue with a 14-day self-quarantine according to the rules previously established in executive orders.
The Governor’s plan requires our tourist industry to enforce her rules. Lodging facilities are required to have the visitors fill out government paper work certifying the visitor and holds lodging facilities accountable for failure to adhere to the law.
In addition to the emergency powers the Governor has to control the ingress, egress and occupancy of premises pursuant to movement of people within the state, she also has the authority to “enlist the aid of any person to assist in the effort to control the emergency and aid in the caring for the safety of people.” In other words she is using our tourist industry to be her enforcers under threat of penalty.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Across the border in New Hampshire visitors have to sign an affidavit that they have self-quarantined at home for 14 days. It is a solution that is not intrusive and trusts people to do the right thing.
In fact, the New Hampshire approach is good enough that Governor Mills provides an exemption to the travel requirements for New Hampshire and Vermont visitors. If New Hampshire’s approach was detrimental to the health of New Hampshire residents to the point that Maine couldn’t follow similar measures, why are New Hampshire residents exempted from the Governor’s restrictions?
By refusing to work with the legislature, listen to employers and their workers, and looking at what other states have done, the Governor imposes her own solutions vetted by her own hand-picked advisors. This is a dangerous, detrimental, disservice to the people of Maine. The longer this goes on, the longer it will take to undo the damage being done by Governor Mills.
It is time for the Presiding Officers of the Legislature to call a vote on the question of bringing the legislature back for the limited and expressed purpose of ending the emergency powers that are controlling the movement of people and coopting our legislative authority.
Our elected leaders need the ability to work with the Governor to develop a reopening plan that uses the expertise contained in our citizen legislature. We all want to be safe, and there is no reason in working together we cannot be safe and open.
This is State Representative Kathy Javner, thank you for your consideration.