Politics

February 18, 2013

Legislators face fallout following gun-permit flap

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
State House Bureau

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Will they take the time to answer it?

GOOD FOR THE GOOSE

Here's an interesting footnote to the gun dust-up.

Wilson's bill was submitted at the request of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, the nonprofit group that promotes conservation and gun rights.

In 2010, SAM filed an FOAA request seeking over 100,000 email addresses of those who had bought hunting and fishing licenses through the state's online purchasing service. The data is public information and SAM wanted it to solicit new members.

Presumably, some of those hunting-license holders own guns.

WHAT'S FAIR?

Democratic leaders have been talking a lot about "tax fairness" the past two weeks. Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, first mentioned a fair tax structure last week during Democratic leaders' weekly media availability.

So what exactly will tax fairness legislation look like?

A bill by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, may hold the answer. Berry, the House majority leader, has a bill titled "An Act To Provide Tax Fairness for Maine's Middle Class and Working Families."

Berry said Wednesday that his bill is still being developed. However, he indicated that it may propose raising taxes on the wealthy while lowering taxes for middle-income earners.

Democrats have also indicated there could be changes to the state's tax code. They're offering few details beyond that, but it's a safe bet such proposals will become some of the most vigorously debated this session.

NOT HAPPY

The budget deal struck by the Legislature's budget-writing committee made sure that charter schools were exempted from the governor's education cuts.

The issue was a sticking point during negotiations, as Democrats had originally proposed including the $5,000 charter subsidy in the reductions. Republicans essentially said they wouldn't vote for the spending plan if charters were included.

Democrats eventually conceded. The Maine Education Association, the state's teachers union, wasn't thrilled with the outcome. Here's what Lois Kilby-Chesley, president of the MEA, said:

"This move is extremely upsetting. If cuts are going to be made, charter schools should have to face the same consequences as our public schools since they are also funded by taxpayer dollars. ...

"Unfortunately this supplemental budget is just the beginning of the problem for our public schools, if the governor has his way. His budget calls for these cuts to continue over the next two years. Our schools and communities can't take any more cuts because the truth is ... some cuts never heal."

Kilby-Chesley didn't chastise Democrats in her statement even though they ultimately agreed to exempt charter schools in exchange for spending items in the budget.

State House Bureau Chief Steve Mistler can be reached at 620-7016 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

On Twitter: @stevemistler

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