Friday, April 18, 2014
(An earlier version of this posted indicated that the Education Committee could vote on the gun safety bill Wednesday; that's wrong, the works session, and potential vote, is Thursday)
Cowards, hypocrites: Those were some of the words that WGAN Morning Show host Ken Altshuler used Wednesday morning to describe Democratic lawmakers' move to pass emergency legislation that exempts concealed weapons permit holder information from the state's Freedom of Access Act for the first time in at least 28 years.
Altshuler, apoplectic over the decision, slammed Democratic leaders for what he viewed as capitulation to the gun lobby, a group he described as a "vocal minority." He also wasn't buying the explanation from Democratic leaders that the move to shield concealed weapon permit data was temporary. He argued that lawmakers won't be able to "put the genie back in the bottle" when it deals with a bill by Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, that makes the data permanently private.
Some Democrats indicated Tuesday that they hoped to forge a compromise that would shield some concealed weapon permit holders, such as those who had previously filed restraining orders or retired law enforcement officers, while keeping the rest public.
Altshuler said on the air that he had emailed Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, and Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, inviting them on the show to defend the decision. According to Altshuler, Goodall emailed back to say he would gladly discuss the vote when Altshuler was prepared to have a "rational discussion."
Altshuler isn't the only pundit chiming in. Democrat Ethan Strimling and Republican Phil Harriman were critical of the move during a segment on WCSH 6 that aired Tuesday.
By proxy: The Education Committee on Thursday could vote on a bill that would require schools to provide a gun safety course. The bill was submitted on behalf of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine.
SAM, a conservation and hunting advocacy group, is running point on quite a few gun related bills this session, including Wilson's concealed weapons bill.
There's one group that has an interest in gun rights that hasn't had an overt presence in the State House hallways: The National Rifle Association.
The NRA was active mobilizing members during the concealed weapons dust-up. The group has filed lobbying reports, too. But in terms of taking a high profile lead on gun-related issues, the NRA appears to be playing second fiddle to SAM.
Talk about it: Democratic leaders will hold their weekly media availability Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.
Thinking about it: There's lots of speculation about which Democrat will run for governor in 2014. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, is often discussed and a recent poll indicated that he's the Democrats' best chance to beat Gov. Paul LePage.
Michaud has only indicated that he's thinking about running.
If Michaud runs for governor, state Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, said Wednesday that she'd consider entering the race for 2nd Congressional District. If that happens, it would be the second time that Cain runs for the 2nd CD.
Cain ran for the seat for about 72 hours in 2012 during the mad scramble that followed former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe's decision not to seek re-election.
Non-political item: Colleague Kelley Bouchard has a neat piece today about how Freeport's claim to be the birthplace of Maine is a fallacy. Check it out.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.