One of Webster’s definitions of truth is that which conforms to fact or reality. However, our personal inventory of facts is incomplete and what we know (or believe) to be facts shapes our perception of reality. We all have our own version of ‘truth’ and, in varying degrees, accept or reject new information based on how well it aligns with our personal reality.

President Trump decried ‘fake news’ in the media. The demented media reaction shows, at the very least, that the media accepts presenting facts to their readers and viewers as a matter of integrity. We should also be disturbed by ‘fake news’. We depend on the media for the information we use when making important decisions. We vote for representation, we vote on referendum questions and bond issues, and we influence our legislators. It is our responsibility to at least try to remain open to facts and even arguments that don’t fit neatly into our versions of “truth.” Dishonest and partisan media frustrate that.

Here in Maine, Rep. Heather Sirocki introduced LD 840, a bill which “prohibits a person … from purposely providing … false testimony” to a legislative committee or from purposely omitting or concealing material facts in such testimony. The State and Local Government Committee recommended that the bill “Ought not to pass” and that recommendation was accepted by a margin of one vote in the House. Hopefully only the truly insane advocate that our Legislature should enact laws based on false testimony or that concealing material facts in testimony is in any measure legitimate.

Other issues will come before the Legislature or the people in the coming weeks and months:

Ranked choice voting is unconstitutional, in the unanimous opinion of the Maine Supreme Court. The Legislature may repeal the initiative but those who favor ranked choice argue that the “will of the people” binds the legislature and even changes the Constitution. Most of what’s written on both sides is rich in assertion and opinion and wanting for facts or substantiated argument. Maine voted 52-48 percent in favor of the referendum question, despite knowing the Attorney General viewed the question as unconstitutional. Or did they know? There is a reason our Constitution says what it does, so was it knowledge or emotional arguments and group-think that informed voters’ decisions? That we’ll never know, but this question is not yet decided and it’s our individual obligation to take another look at the assertions, arguments, and, if any are presented, facts.

Maine’s surtax on “high” incomes has produced no increased revenue so far, according to the legislators with whom I’ve talked. That hasn’t restrained ‘Opportunity Agenda” proposals to spend the fantasized revenue. Bills have been submitted to repeal the tax.

I didn’t need persuasion to reject this initiative. The arguments against it fit very neatly into my “truth” so I’ll continue to oppose this initiative. What’s your truth and what will you do?

Assuming the AHCA fails to nullify the initiative, next year we’ll be voting whether to expand Medicaid here in Maine. Those not living in oblivion know the history of this initiative. Surely, debate will be a furious. Hopefully a few advocates for and against will make arguments based on verifiable facts including the results in states that have accepted expansion. My question is not where others stand but whether they can articulate their reasons without relying on memorized bullet points about how ‘cruel’ opponents are or invoking images of children dying for lack of care. How sad it will be for us all if that answer is “no”?

Yet another question is whether Maine’s Referendum process is being abused by out-of-state advocates. Two bills to reform the process died in committee this session but the issue remains. The reference unfortunately makes assertions and arguments that aren’t substantiated, even by references. However, it does introduce chilling observations that should give all of us cause to look for facts to sustain or refute the “truth” that our results represent the (informed and considered) “will of the people.”

And finally, what is your “truth” about who would be responsible for a shutdown over unfunded “Opportunity Agenda” spending increases?

Another View is written on a rotating basis by a member of a group of Midcoast citizens that meet to discuss issues they think are of public interest.

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