Thursday, April 24, 2014
The 17th Amendment to the Constitution says, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each senator shall have one vote. "
Ted Sirois of Saco, who in a letter to this newspaper on Sept. 6 advocates this amendment's repeal, would like us to think that the original wording of Art. 1, Sec. 3 -- that senators from each state should be "chosen by the legislature thereof" -- should be reinstated.
I say, bring it on. Let us harken back to the days when the conflicts between Democrats and Republicans prevented the election of any candidate due to the contentious battles within numerous state legislatures. Bring back the intimidation and bribery that marked some of the senatorial elections.
The 17th Amendment changed the method of choosing senators, moving the choice out of the state legislatures and giving it directly to the voters.
Left unchanged is the fundamental difference between the two federal houses. The House still represents the people, while the Senate continues to represent the states as incorporated. Each has an equal weight.
In 2002, there was a movement in Montana to repeal this amendment. Then again in 2004, Georgia Democratic Sen. Zell Miller issued a call for its repeal. The anti-17th Amendment movement was the mainstay of the John Birch Society back in the 1960s. Today, presidential hopeful Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has signed on to this tea party cause.
Mr. Sirois believes that the direct election of our senators was a grievous error. Does he really believe that the state legislatures that ratified the 17th were just going along with a popular fad of the time?
Could it be that Mr. Sirois is but a state sovereignty advocate who believes that we are not a unified nation, but a confederation of quasi-independent jurisdictions?
GOP taking real steps for better business climate
On Aug. 16 in this newspaper, state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, complained that Gov. LePage and I are being negative about Maine's poor business climate.
Mainers are smart. They know why too many of our young leave for better opportunities elsewhere. Telling the unvarnished truth is the first step to fixing our serious problems.
During the senator's nearly five years in the Legislature, the pension debt for teachers and state employees ballooned to $4.1 billion. Working with the Legislature, the new LePage administration slowed the growth of the retirement benefits, which eliminated 41 percent of the debt, or $1.7 billion.
Now, Maine taxpayers will spend roughly $200 million less per year on these benefits. Businesses don't have to worry as much about taxes going up to pay for this surging debt. That encourages job creation.
During Sen. Dill's tenure, the cost of health care for Mainers has risen to among the highest in the nation. She supported Dirigo Health, the state-run system that once promised to lower costs, improve care and reduce the number of uninsured.
But that $183 million taxpayer-funded experiment failed miserably. Health insurance premiums are no longer affordable for many fellow citizens and small businesses. Our new leadership team is defunding Dirigo Health, allowing Mainers to buy coverage across state lines, and reinsuring high-risk individuals.
Over time, competition will return to our health insurance market. This will help drive down premium costs for our struggling families and help our businesses create more jobs.
Quality of life must include a paycheck. Maine shouldn't be a place just for those who can afford it. We need everyone's support, including that of Sen. Dill. Then, and only then, can we honestly and proudly proclaim Maine to be a great state in which to live, raise kids and start a business.
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