Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Updated at 8:05 p.m. with comment from Sirocki -- S.M.
A freshman lawmaker from Scarborough has become the first Maine legislator named to the national League of Conservation Voters' "Dirty Dozen" list.
Republican Rep. Heather Sirocki was on a slate of lawmakers that the group describes as the most "anti-environmental state-level candidates in the country." Maureen Drouin, director of the Maine Conservation Voters, cited Sirocki's votes to weaken Maine's clean water and wetlands regulations, against the Land for Maine's Future Program and a ban on the chemical Bisphenol-A, or BPA, which has been linked to cancer and learning disabilities.
“Since taking office two years ago, Rep. Sirocki has voted to damage our environment and natural resources at every turn,” Drouin said in a press release, adding that "from Congress to the State House, there has never been a more urgent need to defeat politicians who stand with corporate polluters and oppose vital environmental safeguards."
A host of Republican lawmakers cast similar votes during the last legislative session, but Sirocki, who is vying against Democratic challenger Jean-Marie Caterina for a second term, may be among the more vulnerable on Election Day.
Sirocki won the District 128 seat by 344 votes during the 2010 tea party surge. Democrats held the seat for two years prior to Sirocki's victory, while Republicans held it from 2000 to 2004. Republicans have a 4 percent advantage in registered voters, but unenrolled voters hold the majority in the district.
The LCV says it sought input from more than 30 state partners and reviewed hundreds of candidates running for governor and state legislatures. The group says it targets candidates "regardless of party affiliation" and are "running in races in which LCV has a serious chance to affect the outcome."
The group said that it plans to use its grassroots organization and direct mail to notify voters about Sirocki's record.
Sirocki, in an email, wrote that she was "dismayed" by the "publicity stunt."
She added that she was proud to sponsor bills to regulate the use of magnesium chloride, which is used by road crews to limit snow and ice. She said she was "instrumental" in providing an opt-out provision for citizens who had health concerns about smart meters mandated by Central Maine Power.
Sirocki noted that her environmental record was more penalized because she supported bills that the LCV deemed particularly harmful, including a contentious regulatory takings bill that ultimately failed.
The takings bill would have compensated landownders if new landuse regulations diminished property values. Supporters said the bill would prevent the state from enacting overly restrictive landuse laws, while opponents said it would effectively freeze new, and needed, regulations.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.