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The day-to-day cases of COVID-19 have already been made down. State revenues is on high. There is Maine more than $ 1 billion of additional federal aid funding to figure out how to spend. Vacationland is heading into a critical summer season relief of pandemic bans and increased vaccination.
In the Maine Legislature, this should be the cause of celebration – and, yes, some intense policy debates and difficult decisions about how to best position Maine for the future. But with all the encouraging progress out there, it’s almost like some lawmakers didn’t get the memo.
As part of the return of the State House Legislature, an unnecessary fight over face masks is on the rise.
Lawmakers will no longer meet at the Augusta Civic Center, dropping their pandemic location, but Democratic leaders have used their majority in the Legislative Council to keep the necessary mask in place. Republican lawmakers may not like it, but that’s how it is Constitution of Maine and make the laws of the law.
There was a vote on masks, and there was a consequence. If lawmakers pass laws, Maine people won’t be able to choose who to follow (at least with no consequences, that is). Legislators do not have a kind of special power to pick and choose which rules of law to follow.
That didn’t stop a group of seven conservative members of the Maine House of Representatives, six Republicans and a Libertarian, from entering the State House on Monday without masks, even after being told by a Maine Capitol Police official that masks were required by leadership. They were immediately stripped of their committee assignments and replaced by Democrats. Some Republicans are expected to continued violation of the rules in the coming week.
People were fired from committees and given their seats to all Democrats but Republicans were invited to frame it as a partisan power grab. Going forward, Democratic leadership is necessary more clearly about the consequences before the time, and continue to balance them with transgression. It doesn’t have to be nuclear. The Legislature has more important things to do.
First and foremost, however, there is a quick way to avoid further escalation: legislators must follow the rules and wear a mask.
Whether Republicans want to criticize the mask-wearing policy, and how it remains more restrained than lead from the U.S. CDC and the state of Maine, then they can continue to make that controversy. as Michael Cianchette wrote in his weekend column for BDN, “every day, Republicans can stand on the floor of the room and make a motion to uphold the mask mandate. Every day, they could have been elected. And every day, they could. they can get their argument with the Maine people. ”
As long as the mask requirement is not changed, however, it is a rule that members of the Legislature must follow. Social democrats rely on people following the same rules, even rules they don’t want – and working to change rules they don’t want through an agreed process. For many people, that may seem like a theory. But it doesn’t have to be theoretical for the people who make our laws.
As another BDN columnist, David Farmer, said this week, “Decorum is an integral part of the guardrails that keep political controversies from fostering a channel of pettiness and distraction in the State House. . “
The loss of a majority -party Legislative Council vote is a democratic consequence that flows in part from inadequacy in the last election. So follow the rules, make your arguments to the people of Maine and do better next time.
Things are moving in the right direction toward the Maine summer season, however not all moving at the same speed. Many people are quick to breathe, but there are still big decisions. Lawmakers should not waste the oxygen conflict in the legislature over mask rules.