Petty. Inane. Partisan. Unsuccessful. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when trying to describe the majority party’s performance in the 126th Legislature.

By any measure, the session now concluding was an abject disaster for Maine Democrats, led by Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.

Despite commanding large majorities in both the Senate and the House, Democrats won few major policy victories. Instead, they transformed the State House into a platform for campaign-style political attacks on Republican Gov. Paul Le-Page, a strategy that may well backfire this November.


Let’s review some of the good work Democratic lawmakers did in the last year and a half for the people of Maine.

First, who could forget Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, and her hilarious L.D. 858? This is the bill that would have put the Blaine House up for sale.

She’s said she introduced her bill to teach the governor a lesson about what it’s like for Mainers struggling with homelessness. That’s a thigh-slapper. Because no one needs to be taught about homelessness like a guy who grew up homeless.

Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced another spiteful attack on LePage. His L.D. 490 would have stripped the governor of his pension in the event he is not re-elected.

Jackson said his bill would “foster a more respectful relationship” between the governor and state employees. What better way to foster respect than to steal a man’s pension?

When he wasn’t launching petty attacks on behalf of the state workers’ union, Jackson was busy helping one of his constituents subvert environmental regulations. As recently revealed by, Jackson’s L.D. 1848 would have allowed a single constituent to escape fines for violating Maine’s shoreland zoning law.

The military recruiter bill was a telling episode, too. Democratic lawmakers hotly objected to a Republican bill that would ensure uniformed military recruiters had unhampered access to Maine’s public schools. That is, until it was reintroduced by a Democrat. Then it received broad support from left-wing partisans.

The Democrats also blocked L.D. 1698 – a simple bill that would streamline the permit process for teens who want to work at movie theaters or bowling alleys. And they balked, initially, at a bill to help victims of human trafficking.


Of course, this is just a snippet of all the asinine things Maine’s liberals tried to do. More disasters came by way of attempts to repeal successful legislation enacted by the Republican-controlled 125th Legislature.

Democrats tried to roll back Public Law 90, despite the good news reported about its effect on insurance rates. They even tried to kill investment in the retail fireworks business that was just getting started and creating jobs.

But surely the most high-profile Democratic failure was welfare reform and stubborn resistance thereto.

We found out last summer that Democrats see nothing wrong with Maine’s social safety net subsidizing junk food consumption. Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, had a bill that would stop food stamp recipients from using their benefits to buy junk food – a fiscally responsible proposal that would also promote healthy eating among Maine’s most vulnerable families.

Yet that was unfair to EBT cardholders, said Democrats, who rejected it along party lines.

Nevertheless, there was hope that liberals could support some kind of welfare reform. Until, of course, this spring, when Democratic legislators voted almost unanimously against LePage-backed bills that would, among other things, have kept Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients from swiping their EBT cards at cigarette shops and liquor stores.


Conversely, LePage, despite his penchant for cringe-worthy off-the-cuff statements, despite a yearlong assault by liberal lawmakers and newspaper editorials, enters the 2014 campaign season in earnest with many, many significant accomplishments under his belt:

Paying back old Medicaid debts to Maine’s hospitals. Establishing performance metrics for schools. Free market-based health insurance reform. Ousting corrupt government employees. Charter school legislation. Historic income tax rate reductions. Decreasing the unemployment insurance tax. Saving Maine from Obamacare’s reckless Medicaid expansion. Blocking a foolhardy minimum-wage hike. Doubling the death tax exemption. Myriad economic freedom-enhancing regulatory reforms. Major, vital pension reform. Unprecedented state spending transparency.

But the most significant accomplishment is borne out in Maine’s unemployment rate, 5.9 percent, which is lower than the national and New England averages. Maine’s workforce participation rate is above the national average, too. Under LePage, Maine’s job creators have now produced more than 17,000 new private-sector jobs – a stark change from the two previous regimes, which excelled only at producing government jobs.

Steven E. Robinson is editor of TheMaineWire.Com and a policy analyst for the Maine Heritage Policy Center. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]