Legislature to Hold Session Days

House Republicans are encouraged that the Senate President and House Speaker
have finally called for an in-person, legislative session March 10 and possibly 11.
This development is needed and long overdue.

This is Representative Jim Thorne of Carmel with the Weekly Republican Radio

Since the last Legislature adjourned March 17, 2020, the full House and Senate
have convened only once, December 2, to swear in the new Legislature at the
Augusta Civic Center.

Legislators have worked throughout that time on constituent matters, especially on
helping displaced workers access the dysfunctional unemployment system.

Legislative Republicans recognize that elected officials are supposed to be leaders,
and have tried to convince the Senate President and House Speaker to convene the
full legislature before these March dates.

If front-line workers, students, teachers, grocers, and large businesses can safely
serve the public, there is no reason the people’s elected representatives cannot fully
perform the job they were elected to do.

With a session now called, legislative Republicans see an opportunity for the
public, through their elected representatives, to have a voice going forward.
Unilateral, ongoing emergency orders, with virtually no input from legislators or
the public, have raised questions about the science and strategy for safely restoring
our lives. In some cases, public confidence in state government has eroded.

The Maine Constitution does not allow for legislative tinkering with the
Governor’s Emergency Order. It only contains a provision for the legislature to
remove it.

In December, Rep. Peter Lyford of Eddington introduced a Joint Resolution to
terminate the State of Emergency. It will be taken-up for debate during next
week’s session.

The Joint Resolution is not intended to be an end to Maine’s response to the
pandemic, but a new beginning.

The beginning of meaningful involvement by the public through their elected
leaders. The proper functioning of government as intended in our Constitution.
There needs to be open, shared, decision making going forward. How else can we
hope to have a unified approach to safely restoring our way of life?

The other matter of immediate importance next week is passage of Maine’s
Supplemental Budget.

The Maine Constitution requires a balanced budget and a Supplemental Budget is
necessary to cover pandemic-induced revenue shortfalls.
The main point of contention is complete conformity with federal tax regulations,
including the tax relief associated with the federal Paycheck Protection Program
(PPP). That $2.7 billion in relief went to help businesses keep their employees
throughout the pandemic but unfortunately the Governor is still proposing to take
approximately $82 million from those businesses.

Although the full Legislature has not been meeting in person, committee work and
public hearings have been conducted over Zoom, YouTube and other online

During the March 10 session, the House and Senate will act on bills and other
items reported out of committee.

The public has not been allowed to visit the State House, which has greatly
reduced their ability to testify on pending legislation. House Republicans will
continue to push for public participation, not just from lobbyists and special
interest groups. Republicans also seek transparency in the way government
business is conducted.

Work also continues on a Biennial Budget. Maine is still facing a $650 Million
budget shortfall over the next three years. That is less than the $1.4 billion
projected last summer, but substantial. 
House Republicans believe that state government should not flourish at the
expense of citizens experiencing economic hardships.

Limited taxpayer revenues should go to needs, not wants, and focus on protecting
our most vulnerable citizens.

It is important that we do not raise taxes on small businesses, workers and families
already hurt by COVID-19. 

This has been Rep. Jim Thorne with the Republican Weekly Radio Address.
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