While most of us have been enjoying the dwindling days of summer and the beginning of football season, state legislators have been hard at work coming up with ideas for new laws to debate in the upcoming second session. While we don’t yet know the content of any of the legislation being proposed – all we have is titles, and in some cases that’s all the legislators have as well – that’s often all one needs to know.

Majority Democrats would like to continue the banning binge they went on last session, further expanding Maine’s nanny state and restricting individual liberty. Sen. Dave Miramant wants to ban plastic straws statewide, Rep. Janice Cooper wants to do away with smoking at bus stops and outlaw all vaping devices and Sen. Rebecca Millett wants more restrictions on vaping. Further restrictions on smoking and vaping are set to be a major theme this session – which is rather curious, because if there’s anything history has shown us, it’s that banning products is rarely an effective way to actually reduce their use.

It’s not just vaping and plastic straws that some Democrats would like to outlaw. They tried returning to gun control, further seeking to restrict our right to bear arms – despite Maine being one of the safest states in the nation. Proposals were submitted to outlaw assault weapons, or at least heavily limit their sale (likely by banning private sales). These proposals ought to be interesting to read, since at least now Maine Democrats might have some idea of what the actual definition of “assault weapon” is.

Equally concerning would be Cooper’s proposal to require that all gun owners have liability insurance. This idea, which has been increasingly floated by gun control advocates, is completely impractical and unworkable, especially at a state level in Maine. While we have a similar requirement for automobiles, there are a number of fundamental differences between cars and guns that are often ignored by the gun-control crowd.

In order to drive a car, it has to be registered, which is when we check to make sure somebody has insurance. There’s no such similar registration requirement for firearms, at least not in Maine, so unless Cooper’s bill creates such a requirement, it would be completely unenforceable. Indeed, if they purchase a firearm in a private sale, they don’t even have to undergo a background check, let alone register.

In order to enforce this idea, Cooper’s bill would have to completely rewrite Maine’s gun laws in a way that goes even further than the referendum we already shot down: we’d need a universal registration requirement, not just universal background checks.


None of these ideas was approved last week by the 10-member Legislative Council, a hurdle that newly introduced bills need to clear before they can be introduced in the the “short” legislative  session, which is supposed to be reserved for only emergency legislation. There will be an opportunity for sponsors to appeal the decision next month, but they are unlikely to prevail. Still, the number of these bills indicates where at least a large part of the Democratic caucus thinks the state should be heading.

In the first session, similarly extreme proposals to limit our right to bear arms were essentially torpedoed by the Blaine House and Senate Democrats, who had the most to lose politically. Curiously, Speaker Sara Gideon regularly supported further restrictions on firearms when they came to the floor, showing that she is in lockstep with national Democrats on the issue. It will be interesting to see whether that continues this session, now that she’s running for statewide office. Will she attempt to tack to the center, or will she continue to embrace extreme left-wing proposals?

As far as the bills she’s sponsored herself, four of Gideon’s five bills are centered on health insurance, showing that she plans to make that a centerpiece of her U.S. Senate campaign. That’s a much narrower focus than Senate President Troy Jackson, who’s offering bills on labor, health care, energy and education.

On a certain level, Gideon’s focus on health care makes sense, since it’s a top issue for voters. However, it’s also an area where Sen. Susan Collins has shown bipartisanship, voting down attempts to repeal Obamacare. Focusing on health care also reminds voters that, while they don’t want to see it repealed, Obamacare didn’t exactly fix everything, either.

So far, the bills being introduced show that Democrats remain the party of big government. While that might please their base, it’s probably not a wise political strategy heading into an election year.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:


Twitter: jimfossel

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