Monday, March 10, 2014
A bill that would have allowed the governor and all future governors to shield their working papers from the public was soundly rejected by the House last week, 98-47.
Even opponents of the bill were surprised by the margin of the vote, which showed bipartisan opposition to the idea.
Gov. Paul LePage's office supported the bill, saying that because lawmakers' working papers aren't public records under Maine law, the chief executive's shouldn't be.
Specifically, the bill would have created a public records exemption for "records, working papers, drafts and interoffice and intraoffice memoranda" used to prepare legislation or legislative reports.
It would have applied to the governor and "any employee of the governor's office."
While the House debate was not long, it was spirited. Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, summed it up with this zinger:
"Much of what we do here is about power," he said, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. "It's about power and it's about secrecy. Power is always advancing. It never contracts. When you go to vote for this, remember this is only a bill that Richard Nixon could have loved and I urge you to vote no!"
The bill now goes to the Senate for a first vote.
Open Season targets all of Maine's political wildlife, from Portland city government to the donkeys, elephants and independents stalking the Statehouse and U.S. Capitol.
John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
John can be reached at 791-6324 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @jrichmaine
Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or email@example.com
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
Susan can be reached at 621-5643 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or email@example.com