You’ve got to stop lying to the Legislature. Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough, submitted legislation, L.D. 850, that would have prohibited a person from providing false testimony to a legislative committee. It’s unclear how she would determine we are lying, but an original version of the bill also gave the committee the option of putting people who testify under oath.
A routine lie would be a class E crime, and a lie told under oath would be a class D Crime. And if you are a lobbyist, you’ll be all done that job for two years for a single lie. Of course, there are no penalties for legislators whose comments are untruthful.
This must have been designed to discourage the public from testifying on bills. I’ve heard plenty of incorrect information given in testimony over the years, most of it unintentional. People just get their facts wrong. And so do legislators. The final version of the bill was amended to apply only to lobbyists. But I can tell you — if a lobbyist lies, his or her credibility will be ruined and they’ll be all done lobbying.
Then there is the bill from Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Amherst, to protect you from discrimination if you don’t believe in climate change. This bill is apparently driven by a federal lawsuit against a large national oil company that deliberately lied to us about the impacts of their fuel on our climate. Perhaps Rep. Lockman needs to confer with Rep. Sirocki about the issue of lying.
I’m thinking we should expand Rep. Lockman’s protection to those of us who don’t believe the governor is doing a good job, who think Rep. Lockman is a right-wing fanatic, who refuse to believe that we’re getting what we need from the Maine Legislature, or who believe climate change is very real.
Well, these two bills compelled me to go through all the bill titles. Here are a few more entertaining bills.
L.D. 1100, An Act to Increase Salaries of the Governor and Legislators. Really? Is this because they’re doing such a great job for us? If it were up to you, perhaps the bill would be amended to cut their salaries!
L.D. 1011, An Act to Require Pedestrians to Wear Reflective Clothing on Public Ways After Sunset. I can only suggest hunter orange, and direct all of you to L.L. Bean for your reflective clothing.
L.D. 1012, An Act to Improve the Availability of Agency Liquor Stores in Underserved Areas. I wonder how they define underserved areas?
At the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, we’ve had lots of entertaining bills. One would let kids ride on ATV without helmets, as long as they were seated next to an adult. Lots of bills would have given moose or any-deer permits to specific groups, including us old guys. I had fun informing the committee that we actually have a law giving any-deer permits to hunters who are 100 years of age or older. Yes, that’s really true!
Last week the Inland Fisheries Committee killed all the Sunday hunting bills. The only new idea in the pack is one that would allow each town to decide if they wanted to allow Sunday hunting. Don’t worry. It ain’t happening.
And then there’s L.D. 119, An Act Regarding the Display and Content of Political Signs. It irritates me that political candidates — and no one else — gets to mess up our roadsides with their political signs. I’ve said this many times — if you are voting for a candidate because you saw their signs, shame on you.
L.D. 119 would double our pain, allowing the political signs to be displayed for 12 weeks instead of the current six weeks. And it would eliminate the requirements that these signs be labeled with the name and address of the person or organization responsible for the sign. No, no, no.
And here’s one of my favorites, L.D. 1051, An Act to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest. This bill is actually a good one, seeking to provide education regarding sudden cardiac arrest in students engaged in athletics. But oh, when I saw the title, a lot of things came to mind.
To prevent cardiac arrest, stop reading the news about President Trump. I had a friend about a month ago post, on Facebook, a lament that Trump was driving her crazy. In the KJ that morning there were 19 stories about President Trump. I suggested that my friend stop reading the news for a week, to calm down.
To prevent cardiac arrest, don’t join us at the Legislature. We’ve had some very long days, even missing lunch on occasion when committees kept the hearings going right through the noon hour. The level of frustration is high, expectations low, the system often dysfunctional.
To prevent cardiac arrest, keep reading this column. I hope it makes you smile. And please know, most of these bills will not be enacted into law. There now, take a deep breath. And grab a Maine microbrew. My final prescription for preventing cardiac arrest.
George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.