In 2010, Maine elected a new crowd of legislators who promised to take the state in an exciting new direction.

Introducing laws (many generated from models penned by the shadowy and corporate-friendly American Legislative Exchange Council), these lawmakers soon treated us to proposals to deep-six the effective bottle bill, to bring back highway billboards, introduce private prisons and even repeal the Maine Clean Election Act. All, fortunately, were defeated.

Undeterred by the lack of any real proof of voter fraud, our intrepid legislators then attempted to eliminate Maine’s popular same-day voter registration law and sought to introduce onerous voter ID laws. These, too, were defeated.

There were some successes for our lawmakers.

After great debate, the whoopie pie was designated as the state treat and the “Dirigo March” was established as the official state march.

They passed a tax reduction bill that primarily aided the wealthy and a health insurance bill that made lives easier for companies to set insurance rates based on age and zip code (good luck if you are middle-aged and live in rural eastern Maine).

And they still had time to appropriate public money to fund a study for a private boondoggle called the “East-West Highway.”

Meanwhile, our dear governor kept us (and the rest of the nation) all entertained with his battle against the North Korean-inspired labor mural and his bons mots concerning little beards on women, his discovery that “eagles don’t pay taxes” and that “buying a Maine daily newspaper is like paying someone to lie to you.” And who can forget his glorious attempt to exempt his papers from Freedom of Information laws?

It has certainly been an interesting two years, and as the old saying goes — better luck next time. Next time is coming up — Nov. 6.

Greg Rossel

Troy

I was more than a little surprised to see Rep. Emily Cain railing against “tax cuts for the very rich” passed by the 125th Legislature in her recent column (Maine Voices, “Republican agenda has not meant progress for Maine,” Sept. 14).

The reforms will benefit all Mainers. In fact, they especially favor moderate- and middle-income families, who will see an average cut of $340. About 70,000 low-income filers will end up paying no income tax at all, as a result of the new 0 percent bracket.

So, is Rep. Cain suggesting that families who are struggling to make ends meet should be sending more of their money to Augusta at a time of declining wages and skyrocketing fuel prices?

Not only did the 125th Legislature give tax relief to Mainers who desperately need it, we also passed a responsible budget that gets the state’s financial house in order and greatly reduces the unfunded liability for the pension fund. Just recently, we learned that retired state workers and teachers will receive a cost-of-living increase due to a budget surplus in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without new Republican leadership in the Maine Legislature. Rather than throwing partisan darts, Rep. Cain should applaud what has been accomplished for hardworking Maine families.

Rep. Jim Parker, R-Veazie

District 18 (part of Bangor, part of Orono and Veazie)

Place voters’ interests first: Save Clean Election system

Are you enjoying the most expensive presidential election in the history of politics? I am not. As the Press Herald pointed out in a recent editorial, supporters of candidates on either side of the aisle are spending far more for dinner than ever (Our View, “Political spending threatens democracy,” Sept. 23).

The concept of a $50,000-a-plate dinner both baffles and concerns me. This story makes it hard to believe that government is by and for the people. Maine people have always been deeply engaged in their governance — we vote, participate in town meetings, sign petitions to bring questions to the ballot, speak out at public hearings and keep in touch with our elected representatives.

With big money like this in politics, this will become more and more difficult. Whether it is the right to vote, campaign finance or the conduct of elections, Maine people want the rules to be fair so that all can participate.

We need to continue to lead the way to preserve our landmark Clean Election system, reduce the influence of big, special-interest money in our elections and put Maine voters first.

Sonny McPherson

Westbrook

Insurer’s mandate could put her family on slippery slope

As a registered nurse for the last 28 years, I feel as though my right to make decisions for myself and family is being slammed into a single funnel that the health insurance companies are forcing us into.

I am being financially forced into taking a urine test to prove whether or not I am a tobacco user.

I am not now nor have I ever been a smoker, but if I do not provide a negative (for tobacco) urine test by Oct. 12, then I and my family members will automatically be assigned for the entire year of 2012 to the insurance program with the highest deductible and co-pays and the lowest coverage.

I take this to be a form of extortion.

My civil right to choose to make good or bad decisions for myself is being severely choked off.

I believe this is a form of taxation without representation, as I can see where this road has begun. Next, my dependents could also have to pass a urine test for tobacco use.

Why can I obtain a prescription for federally prohibited medical marijuana but not smoke a federally allowed product such as a cigarette?

I know Obamacare health reform has dictated certain changes, but this is intrusive — is it illegal?

This is a slippery slope, one that I believe we should try to level out. Do we have civil rights any longer?

Wendy Vaughan, R.N.

Searsport

‘Fierce storm’ didn’t quell artist’s ardor for outdoors

With all the attention being paid to Winslow Homer, this seemed like a good time to pass along a small piece of Homerana I came upon many years ago in the Bangor Daily News, Dec. 3, 1903:

“Newspaper reporters and the members of the life saving station are not the only individuals who face all sorts of wind and weather at all hours of the day and night. It is related of Winslow Homer, the Scarboro artist, that in a fierce storm he was driven ten miles to Old Orchard Beach to view the wild scene presented at its height. When he had taken a hasty survey, he said: ‘All right! I have been watching for that color for ten years, and this is the first time I’ve seen it!’”

William Bunting

Whitefield

To ramp up employment, look beyond the Pentagon

Kevin Miller, as well as Maine politicians, mentions the presumed perils of reduced Pentagon spending (“Potential cutbacks put defense jobs under the gun,” Sept. 23).

One less warship for Bath Iron Works to build. Ever see how many of these billion-dollar babies are tied up in Norfolk, Va., waiting for the call? And one less submarine for Kittery to work on. Check out New London, Conn., to see how many are idled there.

Point being, it’s time to stop thinking of the defense industry as the only place to dump our money just to prop up employment numbers. There are far better ways to spend tax dollars and get more bang for the buck.

Literally.

E. Davies Allan

Westport Island