Maine’s legislative website states: “The purpose of work sessions is to allow committee members to discuss bills thoroughly, … review amendments proposed by others, … ask its legislative analyst to research and explain certain details of the bill.”

For more than five hours on May 7, the Agriculture Committee discussed poultry and milk bills. Thoroughly discussed them, as cited in the above definition. At 6:16 p.m., when L.D. 1286 was heard, it garnered only 20 minutes. This bill represents an opportunity for Maine to be proactive in protecting its communities and environment by keeping horse transport/slaughter facilities out of our state.

The hour was late, members were probably hungry, but the lack of meaningful dialogue, without addressing proposed amendments, shocked me and certainly was not — by definition — a “work” session.

Two of the bill’s co-sponsors voted “ought not to pass.” What changed their minds? Why would they even remotely want to give the go-ahead for a business that routinely incurs OSHA and EPA violations, pays minimal taxes, costs communities money, creates minimal low-paying jobs and decreases property value?

One committee member told me he voted ONTP because horses are livestock. Whether they’re livestock, domestic or companion animals is not the point. The negative impacts noted above and the toxicity of horse meat by-products are the points.

I find it appalling that our elected officials would spend more time trying to decide whether the whoopie pie should be Maine’s state dessert than they did on a bill that would help protect Maine’s socioeconomic and environmental welfare.

Jayne Winters

South China