I attended the Transportation Committee’s recent public hearing about whether Maine taxpayers should provide funding for a feasibility study for an east-west highway.
I was appalled at the disrespect committee members showed to citizens who spent their valuable time attending a hearing to protect the Maine they believe in.
After the proponents (legislators, administration, lobbyists and others, including a 35-minute PowerPoint presentation) took up more than two hours, opponents finally were able to be heard.
After the opponents began testifying, it became obvious that most of the committee members already had made up their minds and were not interested in comments from the opposition.
Sen. Doug Thomas, R-Winterport, the sponsor, laughed with the representative to his right during some opposition testimony; another representative was texting. A few behaved as though their time was being wasted.
Committee hearings are the only opportunity the public has to speak about bills, and we should not be made to feel that our time is being wasted.
The transportation committee’s hearing procedure should be revamped. If proponents and opponents take turns testifying, committee members will not lose interest in the opponents’ testimonies.
Maine citizens should be encouraged to come to Augusta and participate in our democracy. This one did the opposite.